Managing Director of a leading marketer of automotive tyres, Dunlop Nigeria Tyre & Rubber Plc, Mr Mohammed Jimoh Yinusa, has disclosed that the company was looking for at least a major investor to enable it return to the manufacture of tyres in Nigeria.
In a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) this week, the firm, which shut down its local production in 2008 due to a government policy, said it intends to return in full force to take its place in the market.
To achieve this goal, Dunlop is marketing its 10-year strategic business plan it developed with the hope of getting a potential investor, who will key into the vision of the company.
“We have developed a 10-year strategic business plan for a return to local tyre manufacture, which is currently being marketed to enable us secure a core lead investor for the project as the company currently does not have a single investor with up to 5 percent shareholding to provide the required leadership, after which we would jointly approach our technical partners.
“We are already in serious discussions with a state government that is setting up an Industrial Park with provision for an automobile cluster and a tyre manufacturing plant, among other possible options,” Mr Yinusa stated.
In 2006, the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo reduced the import tariff on tyres to 10 percent from 40 percent.This significantly affected local manufacturers of the product, leading to the exit of Dunlop and Michelin in 2008 and 2006 respectively.
The two leading local makers of tyres could not cope with the huge infrastructural deficiency, especially electric power and Dunlop, which had been operating in the country since 1963, had to go, but continued dialogue with the various successive governments on the need to raise the tariff on imported tyres to encourage local production.
Prior to the 2006 change in policy, Dunlop had just completed a major $50 million expansion into the truck tyre segment a year earlier in 2005 and when it became obvious that the policy reversal was not forthcoming, the firm had to in 2012 take the interim strategic decision to realise all its manufacturing assets to enable it to repay its indebtedness to financial institutions of over N8 billion, which was achieved by the end of 2014.
According to Mr Yinusa, the believe in the future of local tyre manufacture in view of the huge market in the West and Central African sub Regions, with no single tyre plant currently, made the company strategically retained its investment in natural rubber plantations through its 60 percent shareholding in its subsidiary company, Pamol Nigeria Limited, the key minority shareholders being Cross River State government with 21 percent and Delta State government with 15 percent.
Natural rubber constitutes about 50 percent of tyre raw materials, with Carbon Black at about 25 percent, both of which are significantly locally available.
The company’s CEO said, “We have now recorded significant results with the federal government, through the National Automotive Design and Development Council, with the conclusion of a new Automotive Policy which has taken into consideration the key policy negatives of the 2006 reversals.
“This new policy is in the process of being forwarded to the National Assembly for legislation in order to strengthen the future policy stability in this regard.”
“We wish to use this medium to appreciate the understanding exhibited by our shareholders and other stakeholders during this very difficult phase in the history of our company, while we continue our efforts to return our company to profitable operations in order to continue our over 57 years corporate journey,” Mr Yinusa said.