Tenneco plans to overtake ZF Sachs in 2004

Brussels. Tenneco Automotive plans to become European market leaders in the suspension engineering sector.

Last year Tenneco, a supplier of emission control technology and suspension engineering, was in second place in this market segment, behind ZF Sachs.

Hari Nair, executive vice president and responsible for the European business at Tenneco, forecast that the suspension engineering market will decrease by approximately 2 percent in 2004.

"However, we hope to increase our business by around 15 percent this year," Nair said.

Tenneco will primarily benefit from outsourcing contracts from PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Volkswagen.

Regarding its other major sector, emission control technology, Tenneco became European market leader in 2000, ahead of suppliers such as ArvinMeritor, Faurecia and Eberspaecher.

"We believe that in future there will also be a lot of growth here," Nair said.

The supplier, currently number 40 in the world rankings, managed its largest growth within the original equipment business.

"Last year 30 new models were fitted with our products. This year we have a further 20 new contracts," said Nair. As an example he cited BMW's order for components for the new 1 and 3 series.

Nair also plans to increase the company's activities in the independent spare parts market. "Currently the aftermarket only represents 25 percent of our total sales. We hope to increase the share to 50 percent by 2014 at the latest," Nair said.

In 2004 Tenneco will add shock absorbers for commercial vehicles as well as brake systems and filters to its range.

The supplier, which in 1999 was a spin-off from the U.S. group Tenneco Inc., achieved an operating profit of 176 million U.S. dollars in 2003 (2002: 169 million).

Tenneco plans to reduce its liabilities by approximately 100 million U.S. dollars a year. In 2003 the corporation had debts of 1.3 billion U.S. dollars.

Over the past two year Tenneco has closed five of its 23 plants in Europe and 12 of its 88 plants worldwide.

Nair said the company currently has no plans to close further plants, to move production to eastern Europe or to open new plants.

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