METAIR'S First National Battery production line. The company expects earnings for the six months to June to be significantly higher than in the previous corresponding period. Supplied
CAPE TOWN -  Auto component group Metair have successfully completed the installation of the groups first lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant in Bucharest, Romania.

It will have a production capacity of between 0.6 million and 1  million cells a year. Commissioning was progressing to plan, with production anticipated in the second quarter of 2020. 

The completion marked the conclusion of Metair's €13.6 million greenfield  development capital for lithium-ion technology, started in 2017.

Meanwhile in Turkey, Metair remained positive about the market outlook in spite of geopolitical challenges, as it enters the typical critical seasonal year-end high demand cycle, a statement said yesterday.

Following the resignation of CEO of lead acid battery subsidiary Mutlu Aku in November, and until a new CEO was appointed, Metair management, including Theo Loock and Sjoerd Douwenga, would assist the management team. 

The existing Mutlu Aku board would also be strengthened with the appointment of two non-executive Metair directors, Manfred Muell and Billy Mawasha, adding to the existing four members.

The enlarged board would oversee the appointment of a new CEO.

In South Africa, long-term prospects “remain positive”, with several customers confirming new vehicle launches and investments. Metair was in  negotiations to secure additional business related to the new models.

A strategic review, as announced in the 2018 integrated report, had concluded that the two business verticals, Automotive Components and Energy Storage, were in different strategic positions and that a managed separation of the two verticals would unlock value for stakeholders.

The board had received unsolicited expressions of interest for the Energy Storage vertical, and in particular, for Mutlu Aku. 

“The board believes shareholders’ interest will be best served by exploring the best way to unlock shareholder value, which will include the consideration of either keeping the business as a separate vertical, or potentially selling the business.”

The board intended to engage with shareholders on this matter.

“In the interim, Metair remains focused on maximising the potential for the Energy Storage vertical and on executing on the growth opportunities available for the Automotive Components vertical,” Metair’s directors said.

Metair’s share price traded 1.52 percent higher at R24 on Wednesday morning.