Monbat buys Italian recycler amid confidence in lead battery industry

Bulgarian lead-acid battery maker Monbat bought Italian lead battery recycler Piombifera Italiana in September.

Piombifera Italiana, the third largest recycling firm in Italy, will be incorporated into Monbat’s recycling subsidiary, Monbat Recycling.

The purchase is the second major move in just over a month, with MonBat announcing its intention to buy a majority stake in the Tunisian lead battery manufacturer Assad on August 17.

“The lead battery is still the king,” director of corporate communications Vanya Babanin told BESB. “Sure, the lithium-based solutions are going to make their place on the market but this is not expected to happen overnight. In the next 10 years, probably North America and Western Europe will have sizeable fleets of electric cars — but it is not predictable today how significant their market share will be.

“For Monbat the main focus is the after-market, so we expect the effect to be visible probably in 15-20 years. As for the rest of the world, the time frame is much brighter.

“This is why Monbat focuses on market presence in different continents including Africa and South Asia. Through diversification in recycling, new acquisitions and growth, we expect our EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) to reach €70 million ($82 million) by 2021.”

Babanin said Monbat had a strong market presence in western Europe, and that supplementing this business with recycling would close the cycle and facilitate the processing of scrap batteries.

“Monbat is a vertically integrated business in the manufacturing and recycling of lead-acid batteries and this will remain our main scope of activities for the next few years,” said Babanin.

“We have diversified our product range to lithium-ion high power cells and batteries through our acquisitions in Germany (Gaia Akkumulatorenweke and EAS Germany, in July).

“We strive to have a healthy balance in our activities with recycling, and the processed lead from recycling is used for both the in-house manufacturing and for selling to third parties, depending on the economic situation, seasonal dynamics and lead price on the LME.”

The batteries for recycling come from the Italian market, said Babanin, and Monbat’s membership of COBAT, Italy’s official recycling association for lead, entitles it to an annual quota of scrap batteries.

“This is a logical decision for the economic group in the context of us striving to assure both sustainable economic growth and sustainable environment,” said Monbat CEO and chairman Atanas Bobokov.