Bloomberg News

Continental to Focus on Asia Markets, Board Member Wente Says

October 05, 2011

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Continental AG, Europe’s second- largest auto-parts maker, will focus its investments on Asia in the coming years, where sales will account for a third of the German company’s total, board member Heinz-Gerhard Wente said.

While Europe will remain the biggest market for Continental, next year might “bring some problems” because of a possible economic slowdown triggered by the sovereign-debt crisis, Wente said in an interview in Bucharest today, adding that he doesn’t see signs of a “dramatic downturn.” Asian sales now represent 21 percent of overall sales.

“We expect the highest market volumes in Asia in the next few years and our investment focus is Asia, especially India and China,” Wente said. “Operationally, we see quite a stable business but we don’t know what impact the euro crisis will be and we are quite reserved about the possible number of cars produced next year.”

A recovery in global auto markets has helped Continental improve its financial situation and report the highest quarterly profit in more than three years. The Hannover-based manufacturer received its first credit-rating upgrade from Moody’s Investors Service in six years in April after arranging a 6 billion-euro ($8 billion) loan package to cut borrowing costs.

Continental also plans to increase investments in Romania and spend about 40 million euros to increase output of its tire plant in the western city of Timisoara, according to Wente.

--Editors: James M. Gomez, Douglas Lytle

To contact the reporter on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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