Wugang takes over ThyssenKrupp’s tailor welded blanks business

Central China’s Wuhan Iron & Steel (Wugang) announced late on Wednesday July 31 that it has completed the takeover of ThyssenKrupp’s tailor welded blanks business.

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The German steelmaker’s tailor welded blanks subsidiary was set up in 1985 and operates 16 plants in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, the USA, Mexico and China with 930 employees. It supplies about 40% of the global tailor welded blanks market, according to a Wugang announcement.

Wugang and ThyssenKrupp signed the takeover agreement in September 2012, following which the Chinese steelmaker set up an international tailor welded blanks company registered in Duisburg, Germany.

Wugang expects to enhance its competitiveness in the global auto steel market with advanced technology in tailor welded blanks through the takeover.

“China’s auto industry is growing quickly and Wugang will focus on serving this sector in the future,” Wugang spokesman Sun Jin told local media.

“In the past, it was just like we were producing cloth. Now we will be able to make a dress, which is a more value-added product.”

Tailor welded blanks enable the production of lighter, which is a development trend in the auto industry. Automakers welcome the development of this highly specialised auto steel as it helps them save cost and improve production efficiency, a Shanghai-based auto analyst told Steel First.

Wugang, China’s second-largest auto sheet producer, is a strategic supplier to several major automakers, including state-owned Dongfeng Motor Corp and Chongqing Chang’An Automobile Co. It boasts annual auto sheet production capacity of 3.5 million tonnes and almost produced to full capacity in 2012.

China produced a total of 19.3 million vehicles in 2012, up by over 4% compared with 2011.