Ashok Leyland looking at truck and bus assembly in Tunisia, Chairman says UPDATE: Hinduja meets Tunisian Minister

By bne IntelliNews October 12, 2013

UPDATE: 10/12/2013 – Hinduja Group of Companies' Europe Chairman Prakash P. Hinduja met with Tunisia’s Minister of Development and International Cooperation Lamine Doghri on the sidelines of the World Bank IMF annual meeting in Washington DC.

Hinduja talked to Minister Doghri about the possibility of having Ashok Leyland build automotive, bus and heavy vehicles in the country and using Tunisia as a base for exports in North Africa, West Africa and the Sub-Sahara.

On October 9, Minister Doghri met with Overseas Private Investment Corporation President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield about further private sector investment by the US government agency.

UPDATE 9/19/2013 - Following interest expressed by Hinduja Group of Companies' Europe Chairman Prakash P. Hinduja, Ashok Leyland made company visit to Tunisia on the week of September 9 to September 13 represented by their Chennai, India-based Export Manager Vijay Nathan.

Nathan made a detailed presentation to Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) regarding the group and its foreign subsidiaries such as its Leeds-based, UK Optare PLC bus construction group and its sister companies in the Czech republic and in Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE.

Nathan visit  comes ahead of a presentation by Prakash Hinduja during the annual meeting of World Bank and International Monetary Fund to be held October 8 to 13.  Hinduja will talk about Hindija Group work in providing transport solutions in the  Republic of Congo and Nigeria and its future strategy for North African countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.

This is an update to our original story (below) published on July 30, 2013.

WASHINGTON/TUNIS (CI MENA)  Ashok Leyland, the listed commercial vehicle manufacturer, is looking at assembling trucks and busses in Tunisia to supply the growth markets of Libya and Algeria, part-owner and Hinduja Group of Companies' Europe Chairman Prakash P. Hinduja said.

Speaking with Capitol Intelligence/IntelliNews in New York and Washington, DC, Hinduja said the Indian family conglomerate that owns Ashok Leyland is very interested in pursuing BRT (bus rapid rapid transit) opportunities in Libya, Algeria and possibly West Africa.

Hinduja said that the company has a large BRT contract in Nigeria and that he spoke with Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala about the contract at the IMF-World Bank Spring meeting in Washington.  He said he will be speaking about Hinduja’s BRT activities at the upcoming IMF-World Bank annual meeting in October.

When informed that Tunisia is already a bus and truck manufacturing center for Volvo and Renault through Tunisia’s Setcar Group, Hinduja said that Ashok Leyland is open to building and assembling commercial vehicles in Tunisia.

“We are very interested but investment banks need to send us a detailed a proposal for such a project,” Hinduja said.

The European Bank of Reconstruction of Development (EBRD), the Tunis-based African Development Bank, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the United Kingdom International Development Agency are all aggressively seeking international companies to open new manufacturing plants in Tunisia.

Tunisian Industry Minister Mehdi Jemaa told the audience at the Tunisian Investment Forum in June that the country is doing its utmost to promote Tunisia as a vehicle manufacturing hub.

One-Tech (OTH -TN0007530017), a recently listed Tunisian automotive group, is set to double in size in the next few years, Slim Sallemi, Owner, One-Tech told Capitol Intelligence/IntelliNews.  Coficab, a dynamic USD 1.1bn North African multinational, already supplies 6% of Lear Corporation (NYSE:LEA) and USD 700m in parts to Delphi Automotive (NYSE: DLPH ).

Coficab also has important business interests in CEE automotive centers such as Slovakia and Romania.

Tunisia is already in talks with Germany’s Volkswagen AG to build a USD 1bn original equipment facility and the previous Industry Minister Mohamed Lamine Chakhari had opened similar talks with Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company (NYSE-F).

Ford board member and family member Edsel Ford  told Capitol Intelligence that he was completely unaware of the interest by the Tunisian government while Ford government affairs head Ziad Ojakli said the company is not interested in Tunisia and would first look at Morocco if it were to do something in North Africa.

Comer Holding,  the Southfield Michigan-based African-American owned auto-parts group and US trucking giant Penske have expressed initial interest in examining Tunisia as a gateway to Europe, North Africa and West Africa,  Comer CFO Les Stansbery and Penske owner Roger Penske said.

Ashok Leyland, one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers in India with a turnover of USD 2.5 billion and important manufacturing operations in the United Kingdom.

By PK Semler in Washington, DC and John Dodds in Tunis. For more information please call 202-549-3399 or analyst@intellinews.com

 

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