Manufacturing News

Seeking new opportunities overseas

Sany Group Co and Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Development Co, China's two biggest construction-machinery makers, have both successfully integrated their European assets and will continue to pursue acquisitions overseas.

Europe seen as easier location than the United States for business deals

Sany and CITIC Private Equity Funds Management Co paid 360 million euros ($475 million) in April 2012 for concrete-pump maker Putzmeister Holding GmbH to add technology and expand overseas. Putzmeister is a German company that was one of the biggest operators in the sector of concrete pumps for about 30 years.

"Although the deal was completed within a year, the revenue of Putzmeister increased a lot in 2012. The company's unions and staff are satisfied with the new management," said Zhu Gang, of CITIC Private Equity Funds, the man responsible for the deal. He declined to reveal detailed growth figures.

Zhu said the acquisition was important for technology, brand and a sales and service network in Europe. A Putzmeister/Sany combination could be an effective match, he insisted.

"We won't give up any opportunity for mergers and acquisitions and restructuring to strengthen Sany and we expect more mergers and acquisitions abroad," said Xiang Wenbo, president of listed unit Sany Heavy Industry Co.

Zoomlion also did successful M&A in Europe.

"The profit of Compagnia Italiana Forme Acciaio SpA in 2012 increased about 80 percent over that in 2008 when we acquired the Italian concrete machinery manufacturer," said Gao Zhen, a managing director at global equity private firm Mandarin Capital Partners that took part in the acquisition deal of CIFA with Zoomlion.

Zoomlion and investors of Mandarin Capital Partners, Hony Capital and Goldman Sachs purchased CIFA in 2008 for 271 million euros.

Gao said the integration of manufacturing deals is complicated. Since 2008 his company has kept the local teams as well as taken measures to improve supply chain management, production, research and development.

Gao said Zoomlion is going to purchase shares from the three equity investors. Details will be revealed later. Of the purchase in 2008, 25 million euros were from Mandarin Capital Partners.

"Although the state of the construction-machinery sector was weaker last year than previously, we are showing confidence in the urbanization of China and thus Zoomlion's Chinese businesses," said Gao. "European and emerging countries are paying attention to infrastructure construction so the outlook for the global market is also optimistic."

Gao added Europe is a suitable market for Chinese companies to seek opportunities. However, the United States market is difficult to enter because of strict examination and approval procedures as well as technology barriers.

Although the globalization move of Sany in Europe was smooth it met challenges in the US.

On Sept 28, 2012, US President Barack Obama ordered Ralls Corp, controlled by Sany, to divest all of its interests in the wind-farm project that consisted of locations near or within restricted naval airspace. The decision was the first overseas purchase blocked by a US president on national security grounds in 22 years.

Xiang of Sany Heavy Industry Co said they are not asking for the president to cancel the ban but would like an honest explanation and compensation.

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