03 February 1999

Tofan Grup wins in the Romanian tire market (Rompres)

Bucharest, Feb 3 /Rompres/ - In spite of a sagging home market and bitter economic conditions, Tofan Grup's export trade in end-1998 went up 17.5% as opposed to 1997, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gheorghe Tofan announced at the General Shareholders Meeting of the Grup on Monday.

Experts in the company predict a further 25% increase in export trade this year, due primarily to new off-take contracts, according to the Chairman.

In 1998, Tofan Grup, the largest tire maker in Romania to this date, launched in the market a full range of car and light truck tires in the T, H and V speed class, including GLADIATOR, an off-road tire, and MONTANA AVALANCHE, a winter car tire, both made at the Victoria plant in Floresti Prahova /80 km north of Bucharest/.

All-steel truck tires and 65" and 70" series radial farm tires manufactured at Silvania /450 north-west of Bucharest/ and the Bucharest-based Danubiana, respectively, are new-brand products sold by Tofan on the home and international market last year.

Expectations are high of a 22% increase in the MONTANA production throughout this year after an installation of new tire-building machines will be in place at the Victoria facility in late March, said the Chairman.

Tofan Grup is a joint venture established in 1993 with Canadian capital. At present NOMURA of Japan, one of the biggest bank conglomerates worldwide, owns 49% of Tofan Grups' stake.

Tofan, which has already purchased share packages of the Danubiana, Victoria and Silvania tires plants, announced the acquisition in 1998 of CERELAST, the Romanian tire research institute, one expected to assume full research and development responsibilities for all the Company's tire manufacturing subsidiaries.

In 1999, Tofan said that a program to rationalize production types at all its three main subsidiaries will be completed by April.

It said Danubiana would produce only farm, implement and industrial tires, Victoria would focus on car and light truck tires, and Silvania would confine itself to making all-steel truck and bus tires.

By July this year, Tofan said the Management Information System would be given the final touches, with the company offices, production facilities and distribution outlets plugged in the system by a satellite communication network.

Tofan's exports in 1998 totaled a peak of approximately 40,000,000 US dollars, with circa 200,000,000 US dollars reported in its turnover, Vice-President Cristinel Popa told a Rompres reporter by telephone on Tuesday.

In 1998 the United States, west-European countries and Egypt were prominent recipients of Tofan's export trade, according to the Vice-President.

In the same period Tofan's AUTOMAXIMA retail passenger and truck tire distribution chain in Romania totaled approximately 2,200 outlets, while AGROMAXIMA farm tire retail array reached more than 400 outlets.

Experts in the company are optimistic about the opening by AUTOMAXIMA in the course of this year of 40 passenger tire service centers and 10 truck tire service centers.

"Tofan Grup wins in the Romanian tire market." Rompres 3 February 1999.

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