Metair has ambitions to be a global player and has already acquired battery makers in Romania and Turkey. Photo: Supplied

Johannesburg - Metair, the listed automotive component maker and distributor, plans to establish a manufacturing footprint in Africa before pushing ahead with its strategy of transforming itself into a global manufacturer.

Managing director Theo Loock said this week that the group currently only exported its products into Africa but aimed to expand its manufacturing capacity into the continent in the second half of this year by entering into small partnerships, distribution arrangements or technology transfer agreements.

He said that once Metair had achieved this, it could move to the next phase of its strategy and its aim to be a global manufacturer by having a presence on each of the major continents.

Loock said this would involve it expanding its manufacturing presence into North and South America and further expanding its manufacturing capacity in the Asian market.

He added that it would take about two and a half years to transfer its technology to new partners, bed down any acquisitions and get security for the take-up of the group’s spare capacity.

Metair would start looking at its globalisation strategy between 2016 and 2018, he said.

Loock was responding to queries as to whether the acquisition of Mutlu Akü, the largest battery maker in Turkey, for $287.2 million (3.1 billion) was Metair’s last acquisition for a while.

He said about 20 percent, or R1.1bn, of Metair’s total revenue of R5.33bn for the 12 months to December last year was generated from foreign markets.

He said the target was to have a 50 percent split between revenue from South Africa and its overseas base. Its acquisition of Mutlu Akü in December last year would mean almost 45 percent of its revenue would be generated in foreign markets.

Metair made its first cross-border acquisition in 2012 when it agreed to acquire 99 percent of the shareholding in the Rombat, the largest automotive lead acid battery manufacturer in Romania, for R424m.

Last year Rombat contributed R900m to Metair’s turnover compared with R576m for the nine-and-a-half months of inclusion in 2012.

On Tuesday Metair reported a 29 percent decline in headline earnings a share to R2.19 in the year to December last year.

Earnings were dented by the once-off acquisition expense of R78m related to its acquisition of Mutlu Akü and the R128m decline in profit before interest and tax that was caused by businesses in its automotive and mining segments having to close for nine weeks last year due to strikes.

The shares rose 31c to close at R41.84 yesterday.