Mekonomen acquires wholesale activities from HELLA

HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA, one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers for lighting and electronics, is selling its Danish and Polish wholesale companies, FTZ Autodele & Verktoj A/S („FTZ“) and Inter-Team sp. z o.o. („Inter-Team“), to the Swedish wholesaler, Mekonomen AB. A corresponding agreement has been signed by both companies. The purchase price amounts to € 395 million on a cash and debt-free basis. In addition, a consideration equivalent to profits generated from November 30, 2017 to completion of the transaction will also be paid to HELLA. The sale is subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities and is expected to close in the 3rd quarter 2018.

“With Mekonomen, a renowned wholesaler, taking over our activities in Denmark and Poland, it will strategically develop the business,” explains Dr Werner Benade, HELLA Managing Director responsible for the Aftermarket and Special Applications segment. “We will systematically focus the Aftermarket segment on the independent spare parts business and innovative workshop equipment. As part of this, we are accelerating the interaction between the divisions and opening up digital business models.”

Pehr Oscarson, President and CEO of Mekonomen, adds: “Through the acquisition of FTZ and Inter-Team, we strengthen our position as a leading automotive spare-parts distributor in the Nordic region and take the step into Europe. The acquisition is in line with our strategy of playing a central role in the ongoing consolidation in Europe. These are two well-run companies that will continue to develop within the framework of existing corporate structures and brands as standalone companies in the Group.”

FTZ and Inter-Team employ a total of approximately 2,500 people. The two wholesalers achieved total sales of around € 480 million in the 2016/2017 financial year. This corresponds to some seven percent of HELLA’s group consolidated sales.

The transaction is conducted with the assistance of Jefferies Financial Group (Financial Advisor), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Legal Advisor), Ebner Stolz (Financial & Tax Due Diligence) and Roland Berger (Commercial Due Diligence).

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Opposition as shock report calls on ministers to scrap the MOT test

The Independent Garage Association and National Franchised Dealers Association have strongly opposed a report published this week from The Adam Smith Institute which recommends the abolishment of the MOT test.

The report, which says the test is “outdated and unnecessary”, claims drivers would save £180 on average if the tests were no longer compulsory.

It also says ministers should put more resources into developing driverless cars which could save lives by eliminating driver error.

The report’s author, Alex Hoagland, said: “The UK has required MOT testing for decades in order to prevent crashes and fatalities from unreliable vehicles.

“Nowadays, vehicles are safer than ever, leading some governments to re-inspect these programmes.

“When these safety inspections were done away with in some US states, accident rates did not change.

“There’s no evidence that vehicle safety inspections improve vehicle safety.”

Sam Dumitriu of the Adam Smith Institute added: “MOT tests are meant to prevent crashes and save lives, but they’ve never been put to the test themselves.”

As well as scrapping the MOT completely, the report suggested an another option would be to reduce it to once every three years, or applying it only to vehicles which are at least five years old.

It also urged ministers to put more resources into developing driverless cars, which could save lives by eliminating driver error.

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Carmakers may be ‘cheating’ emission tests to lower CO2 targets

The European Commission (EC) says car manufacturers may be attempting to ‘cheat’ new vehicle emissions tests in a bid to ‘manipulate’ future targets imposed by the EU.

Through data collected in member states and assessed by the EC’s Joint Research Centre, the Commission says it has detected manufacturers may be using the transition from the old emissions testing regime – the NEDC test – to the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) – to inflate WLTP emission levels.

In November, The European Commission demanded that car manufacturers cut CO2 emissions by 15% between 2020 and 2025, and 30% by 2030.

“Inflated WLTP emissions in 2020 would result in less strict WLTP CO2 emission targets applying in 2021,” Commissioners Miguel Canete and Elzbieta Bienkowska say in a joint letter to the sustainability minister Elisabeth Kostinger. “As the 2021 WLTP targets also act as the starting point for the 2025 and 2030 targets, such inflation would in turn lead to lower real life emission reductions in the target years.

“As only some manufacturers might inflate the starting point, this could also lead to distortion of the level playing field between manufacturers.”

Responding to the allegations, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said it fully agrees that CO2 values “should not be artificially increased on purpose in any way that would undermine the post-2020 CO2 targets”.

All parties, it said, should ensure that these future CO2 reductions will be delivered in practice and “not through any optimisation of the testing
procedure”.

The trade body added that it was ready to work with the European Commission to help make the current regulation even more robust if that proves necessary.

However, it stressed that artificially increasing WLTP figures was not an industry-wide problem. Indeed, it said that increasing CO2 emissions on purpose to inflate the WLTP baseline would not only be counterproductive in the current CO2 discussions, but may also hinder a manufacturer’s competitiveness.

In fact, it said the majority of EU member states have a taxation scheme based on CO2 emissions and higher CO2 emissions would therefore result in higher costs for the customer – making such vehicles less attractive.

Furthermore, manufacturers are competing on fuel consumption values (which are directly related to CO2 emissions). Therefore, the ACEA says that a manufacturer that would over-declare CO2 values could “dramatically lose their competitiveness and market share, which is in no one’s interest”.

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