Sona Group Vaults into World-Leading Position as Forger

Key Is Purchase of ThyssenKrupp Precision Forging Operations

When ThyssenKrupp Technologies reported late in January that it was selling its ThyssenKrupp Precision Forging business to the India-based Sona Group, it signaled that the India-based buyer was ascending into the world-leading role as a forger. Sona is a producer of automotive steering systems, rear-axle components, and forgings for transmissions, engines, and drivetrains.

Before the deal, Sona had nine plants at five locations in India, as well as a minority stake in Fuji Autotech Europe, which operates in France, CzechRepublic, and Brazil.

The purchase was made by Sona Okegawa Precision Forgings Ltd., a Sona joint venture with Mitsubishi Group.

"The precision forging business of the German firm is No. 2 globally and together with Sona Oke Gawa the business be the biggest in the world," Sona Group chairman Surinder Kapur told reporters in India.

ThyssenKrupp officials characterized Sona as the “best owner for its precision forge operations,” but it declined to state the value of the sale. It indicated Sona is seeking a global presence.

The sale involved three ThyssenKrupp Precision Forging plants in Germany and one in Selma, AL. Its product range covers precision forgings, heavy-duty parts, and Hatebur formed parts. It had FY 2006-2007 sales $420 million.

"We actually create a global footprint, that has been the strategy of Sona Okegawa. It really makes us the number one precision forging company in the world," said Sona Chairman Surinder Kapur.

"We have aspirations that we will go to China, Russia, South America as the next strategy for this precision forging business," he said.

The combined entity will have a capacity of 55-60 million gears a year by the end of 2009, Kapur said. He added that about a third of that capacity will come as Sona Okegawa invests 3 billion rupees during that period to double its current production.

Sona Okegawa Precision Forgings Limited (SOPL) uses precision forging techniques developed at Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Japan. The precision forgings offered by SOPL reportedly eliminate many machining operations, making for high performance transmission products at competitive costs.

The Okegawa plant in Japan was established by Mitsubishi Materials in 1944 for manufacture of metal alloys. It started precision die forging in 1965.

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