The KION Group will neither confirm nor deny news agency reports that it is in talks to buy Japanese forklift maker UniCarriers for up to JPY100 billion (USD833 million). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has also been linked to a bid for UniCarriers.
KION was formed in 2006 after Linde AG grouped its three materials handling brands into a new holding company (Forkliftaction.com News #276)
The Group has said acquisitions are part of its growth strategy as it aims to overtake Toyota Material Handling as the world's largest forklift maker. It sees Asia as an important growth market (Forkliftaction.com News #355)
. Comprising the six brands Linde, STILL, Fenwick, OM STILL, Baoli and Voltas, KION is dominant in Western and Eastern Europe.
UniCarriers was formed in 2012 after Japanese companies Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd and Nissan Motor Co Ltd agreed in November 2011 to merge their forklift businesses, which are operated by Hitachi subsidiary TCM Corp and Nissan unit Nissan Forklift Co Ltd (Forkliftaction.com News #576)
. UniCarriers also has a foothold in the European market through Atlet AB, the longtime OEM partner that Nissan bought in 2007 (Forkliftaction.com News #326)
Meanwhile, the other reportedly interested buyer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), formed Mitsubishi Nichiyu Forklift Co Ltd in 2013 by merging its forklift operations with those of Nippon Yusoki Co Ltd (Nichiyu). MHI was Nichiyu's largest shareholder since 2007 and the companies have had partnerships for over 40 years.
Nippon Yusoki, which produces Nichiyu forklifts, is ranked number two in the Japanese electric forklift market, while MHI is stronger in the global market with its internal combustion forklifts. Mitsubishi Nichiyu Forklift Co Ltd has said it aims to be one of the world's top three largest forklift manufacturers (Forkliftaction.com News #610)
agency puts KION ahead of MHI in the race for UniCarriers, reporting that it "appears to have an edge on price".
In a separate development, UniCarriers Americas Corporation has announced the acquisition of all outstanding shares of Nissan Industrial Engine Manufacturing, Inc. (NIEM). NIEM was originally jointly owned by Nissan Kohki Co and Nissan Forklift Corporation North America, now UniCarriers Americas Corporation.
From April 1, 2015, NIEM was renamed Global Components Technologies Americas, Inc. (GCTA) and became a wholly owned subsidiary of UniCarriers Americas (UCA).
NIEM supplies engines for several forklift models produced by UniCarriers Americas, as well as to customers throughout the Americas.
This transaction represents one of several phases of UniCarriers Americas' overall strategy to transfer the Nissan industrial engine business into the UniCarriers family.