Trailer manufacturer acquires Kögel

Humbaur Group, a German trailer manufacturer with roots in the horse and livestock markets, has acquired Kögel Fahrzeugwerke GmbH, Europe´s third-largest truck trailer manufacturer.

The acquisition comes three months after Kögel was forced to file for bankruptcy. With its trailer business off 90%, Kögel had filed for insolvency at the end of July. In 2008, Kögel had sales of €440 million ($654.6 million U S). Sales this year are expected to be €55 million.

Humbaur Group, based in Gersthofen, Germany, was started as a manufacturer of agricultural equipment in 1957, but it began producing trailers as the agriculture market began to decline. The company introduced its own line of horse trailers in 1998 and started manufacturing semitrailers three years ago.

As sole owner, entrepreneur Ulrich Humbaur has acquired the trademark rights and production facilities along with taking on 442 of the current 763 Kögel employees. The company is placing 233 employees in a so-called transitional company for six months. The remainder will go into retirement or leave the company as temporary employment contracts come to an end.

The 3.6-million euro costs for the transitional company will be divided equally and covered by the new investor, Humbaur, the insolvency administrator and the participating banks in their role as principal creditors.

In addition to saving the maximum number of jobs, it was the terms and conditions of use of the land and buildings at the Burtenbach site in particular which proved to be a difficult point in the negotiations with the final three prospective investors, explained Geiwitz. All buildings and a large part of the property had been sold during the past few years by the previous owners and rented back through their own rental company.

Ulrich Humbaur wants to see Kögel continue not only as an independent brand but also as an independent business.

"There will be a very clear and defined dual-brand strategy with different products and each with its own sales activities," he said.

The new company will operate under the name Kögel Trailer GmbH & Co. KG, and headed by three managing directors.

For Ulrich Humbaur, the acquisition of Kögel is, in his own words, "a logical step to take in setting the course for further growth" of the Humbaur family business. He cites potential synergies that the acquisition provides, particularly in terms of purchasing power.

“With a material ratio of 70 per cent for the entire production costs, this is of fundamental importance for the economic efficiency of the company,” he said. "The Kögel brand also allows us to break into the trailer sector much faster and to successfully serve this market which is bound to grow again in the future."

The location issue remains unresolved for the time being. According to Ulrich Humbaur, the search had already started for a suitable property in the Burtenbach area.

"We will build a new manufacturing facility as fast as possible and resume trailer production there with the usual Kögel high quality," he said.

Dismantling of the production facilities as well as moving out of the buildings will begin in the next few days.

Founded in 1957, the family-owned Humbaur company is today one of the leading trailer manufacturers in Europe. Humbaur GmbH employs around 450 workers and generate an approximately 120 million euros in annual sales.

Humbaur expects the recovery in the trailer sector to start in 2011.

"After this, there will be strong growth and a very large demand for semitrailers throughout Europe and beyond."

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