Mežica, 04 June (STA) - TAB, the Mežica-based maker of vehicle and stationary batteries, has confirmed the reports that it is in talks with South African batteries maker Metair Investments about a potential strategic tie-up, which will "most probably be executed with the sale of a majority of [TAB's] shares".
Following last week's unofficial report in the business newspaper Finance, which said that TAB was just about to be sold to Metair in a deal worth some EUR 300m, TAB confirmed today it was in talks with the company as it was looking for "long-term strategic opportunities".
The company confirmed that the talks on a potential strategic tie-up with the South African company had begun, "which will most probably be executed with the sale of a majority of shares of the company TAB to the company Metair".
Bogomir Auprih, the director, who owns a 16% stake in TAB, said in the press release that the conditions for the sale included a successful due diligence by Metair and an agreement on the transaction with the TAB shareholders.
Auprih expects that the transaction would not be carried out before the last quarter of 2018.
TAB has been looking for a strategic partner in "response to important changes in batteries production, including increased globalisation and consolidation in the world and, consequently, the need for major investments in the development of new products".
The TAB management met representatives of workers and the SKEI metal industry trade union to discuss the developments today, assuring them, in the words of SKEI's Vili Novak, that the Metair "group respects labour legislation wherever it is active".
"The status of the workers will allegedly not change," said Novak, who explained that the management had spoken of the need to connect with other companies in the sector.
The management also said it had gotten assurances that TAB would have a very prominent role in the group in case the sale was executed, Novak reported.
Metair Investments is a Johannesburg-based holding specialised in production, distribution and sale of batteries and car components. Apart from South Africa, it is also present in Romania, Turkey, the UK and Kenya.
The group generated EUR 641.5m in sales revenue and EUR 39.6m in net profit last year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) topped EUR 74m.
Metair's market capitalisation is some EUR 275m, which is close to TAB's market capitalisation. Metair employs almost 6,000 people, according to Finance.
TAB Mežica, whose largest owner is the local company Energija RM with a 40% stake, last year posted a record high sales revenue of EUR 270m, up 17% from 2016. The group's sales revenue reached EUR 330m.
EBITDA topped EUR 30m, which is 9% more than in 2016. At the end of 2016, TAB employed 1,300 people, of whom 600 worked at the core company.