Article published in the July/August issue of European Rubber journal magazine:
European companies continued to lead the ERJ Global Top-50 Non-Tire Rubber producers, with the top three coming from the continent.
As predicted last year, Continental AG emerged even stronger in 2015, establishing its hold even more firmly on the No.1 slot in the annual ranking, produced by ERJ in association with US sister publication Rubber & Plastics News.
Bolstered by the acquisition of Veyance Technologies Inc., Continental sales jumped 13.7 percent in 2015 to $5.34 billion. This was despite the impact of declines in energy and commodity markets on its industrial hoses and conveyor belts businesses.
Veyance, which was acquired by Continental’s major rubber arm ContiTech at beginning of 2015, contributed roughly $1.27 billion to sales.
ContiTech reported significant gains in the automotive sector, which represented 51 percent of sales.
Another strong performer was Cooper Standard Automotive, which rose two spots to No. 4 in this year’s ranking and was, once again, the top ranked US-based firm.
Paris-based Hutchinson SA remained at No. 2, despite a 7.4-percent drop in sales to $4,256 million. The French manufacturer, however, signaled its growth ambitions during 2015 with an expansion of its R&D footprint in North America.
Like Hutchinson, all other lower-placed top-10 companies reported lower sales for last year.
Freudenberg Group maintained third position on this year table, although with the growing new car market and its recent full-ownership of parts-maker Vibracoustic, it is expected to post much stronger sales for 2016.
Freudenberg completed the acquisition of Trelleborg’s shares in the Trelleborg Vibracoustic 50/50 joint venture in July.
Rounding out the top 10 were Sumitomo Riko Co. Ltd. at No. 5, followed by Bridgestone Corp., Gates, NOK Inc., Parker Hannifin and Trelleborg AB.
Another significant development within the top-ten list was Trelleborg’s $1.3-billion acquisition of Prague-based CGS Holding on 31 May.
Although most of CGS sales come from tire-maker Mitas, its other two businesses Rubena and Savatech, generated sales of about $258.3 million in 2015.
In total, without taking into account Veyance’s $1.27-billion contribution, sales dropped by nearly 8 percent within the top-ten companies, down to $32,169 million from the previous year’s $34,929 million.
The biggest jump in the top 50 companies, however, belongs to Anhui Zhongding Sealing Parts Co. Ltd, which climbed the 17 steps to rank 19 this year.
Other newcomers to the top 20 included Japan’s Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. at No. 17 and another Chinese firm, Zhuzhou Times New Material Technology Ltd. which moved up to No. 16 from No. 28 last year, thanks to in part its purchase of ZF’s rubber & plastics unit in 2014.