December 15, 2022: Metair looks set to miss its year-end goal of selling off its international batteries division after rejecting unsuitable bids and will take its search for a buyer into the new year, Battery & Energy Storage Bulletin can reveal.
The South Africa-based batteries and auto components group had hoped to find a buyer for its energy storage division — including battery firms in Romania (Rombat), Turkey (Mutlu Akü) and South Africa (First National Battery) — and announce a sale before the end of this year.
However, a Metair spokesperson told BESB on December 15 offers received so far “were not suitable for the current environment.
“Metair and the board will consider future offers and revisit the strategic options,” the spokesperson said.
In a ‘voluntary operational update’ report to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on December 5, the lead and lithium group said the failure to secure a sale so far was “largely due to the geopolitical climate within Eastern Europe”.
The company said its energy storage division was performing “resiliently under tough operating conditions”, but cautioned that the last quarter of the calendar year was “the most volume sensitive time for the business” and sales in that period would have a strong bearing on annual figures.
Total sales of automotive batteries are expected to reach between 8.5 million and 9 million units for the full year, with the expectation that its Mutlu Akü lead battery manufacturing business will increase sales by at 17% compared to 2021.
However, Rombat sales are expected to be around 15% lower, mainly due to dampened consumer confidence from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Metair said.
Sales from the group’s First National Battery company in South Africa are “expected to be on par” with 2021 figures as a result of efforts to improve competitiveness and market share progressing, the company said.
Metair’s automotive components division continued to perform well too, relative to “challenging operating environments” and key projects remain on track despite the impact of global supply chain disruptions.