Hella divesting two European wholesale businesses

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Photo by Inter-Team

German automotive supplier Hella GmbH has sold two of its wholesales businesses to Swedish car service giant Mekonomen AB and is looking into "other strategic options" for its Norwegian wholesale operation and e-commerce business.

The €395m deal includes wholesale businesses of FTZ Autodele & Verktoj A/S in Denmark and Inter-Team sp. z o.o. in Poland, said Hella in a 6 July statement.

Hella's Norwegian wholesaler Hellanor and e-commerce business - under the umbrella of Ucando - were also included in the original examinations. 

However, they were not subject to the deal "for a variety of reasons", company spokesman Markus Richter told Plastics News Europe.

Hella is now studying other strategic options for those activities.

According to Richter, Mekonomen could not acquire Hella's Norwegian activities, due to antitrust regulations.

"For the e-commerce business, Hella is also examining more far-reaching, comprehensive approaches within the framework of the fundamental digitisation digitisation strategy in the aftermarket," Richter said in a written statement to PNE.

The sale is subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018.

According to Mekonomen, the acquisition of the two companies from Hella makes strategic sense.

“These are two well-run companies that will continue to develop within the framework of existing corporate structures and brands as standalone companies in the Group," commented Pehr Oscarson, president and CEO of Mekonomen.

FTZ and Inter-Team employ a total of around 2,500 people.

The two wholesalers achieved total sales of around €480m in the 2016/2017 financial year, corresponding to 7% of Hella's group consolidated sales.

Post-divestment, Hella aims to focus its Aftermarket segment on its independent spare parts business and innovative workshop equipment.

To that end, the interaction between the two divisions will be intensified and digital business models are to be put in place, as well, according to Werner Benade, Hella managing director responsible for the Aftermarket and special applications segment. 

"With our two pillars of garage equipment and independent spare parts business, the Aftermarket segment will be an important part of Hella's portfolio," noted Richter.

According to Richter, digitalisation and increasing vehicle networking are expected to open up "interesting potential for innovation for Hella", especially in the strongly-growing division of garage equipment.

"We are very well-positioned in independent spare parts business thanks to our OE expertise in the divisions Lighting and Electronics," the company spokesman told PNE.

Richter also touched on the digital business model mentioned by Benade.

According to Richter, Hella, in addition to its core products, is now focusing on new growth opportunities resulting from the digitalisation and increasing connectivity in vehicles.

"We will expand our successful business with repair solutions in the areas of diagnostics and calibration," Richter added.

Hella’s Aftermarket segment offers a product range of 40,000 items to wholesalers, with offerings in lighting, electrics, electronics and thermal management segments at its focal point.

The products are sourced from the company’s own production plants within the Aftermarket Business Segment.

Hella claims to be within the top 3 aftermarket suppliers in Europe.

Jefferies Financial Group acted the exclusive financial adviser to Hella in the transaction. 

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