Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has entered into an agreement to purchase a majority share of China-based Qingdao Ge Rui Da Rubber Co., Ltd (GRT).
Cooper will own 65% of the joint venture, which will be renamed Cooper Qingdao Tire Co., Ltd. (CQT). Expected to close during the first half of 2016, the acquisition and initial investments into the operation will cost Cooper roughly $93 million.
“Cooper is excited to take this positive step to secure additional TBR tire supply and further our Asia growth strategy,” said Brad Hughes, Cooper’s chief operating officer. “After a comprehensive review of options, we are pleased to have reached this agreement, which meets our goal of finding a new source of high quality, cost competitive TBR tires for North America and Asia.”
The CQT will serve as a global source for TBR tire production for Cooper, including Roadmaster brand tires for the North American market. Passenger tires could also be manufactured at the facility in the future, but on an investor conference call Cooper representatives said no timeline for that has been established.
At full capacity Cooper estimates CQT will be capable of producing 2.5 million to 3 million TBR tires annually. The site also offers room for future expansion, Cooper said.
The facility is located north of Qingdao in northeast China.
“The team at GRT is very impressive with deep industry and technical knowledge,” said Roy Armes, chairman, CEO and president of Cooper. “There’s a strong workforce, facilities that we can continue to expand with further capital, and a management team that is focused on the current opportunity in TBR tires as well as our wider growth plans for Asia. This is a great strategic fit within our existing and highly productive worldwide manufacturing network and will allow us to further optimize our global footprint. We welcome the GRT team to the Cooper family and look forward to many years of success together in the future as CQT.”