Airtrax Inc has signed a 30-day letter of intent to acquire a significant interest in newly-formed FiLCO GmbH in Mulheim, Germany.
High-profile, Chicago-based forklift industry executive Fil Filipov heads FiLCO, which acquired the bankrupt Clark Material Handling GmbH from receivers last month.
Over a decade, Mr Filipov has held executive positions with Terex, which sold the Clark business in November 1996. Mr Filipov was managing director of Clark Material Handling in Europe in 1994 and 1995. He is currently president of Terex Cranes.
Mr Filipov told Forkliftaction.com News that, during his tenure, Clark was made profitable, and the FiLCO purchase would see the business again become profitable.
"Everyone wanted to close the factory due to high costs, which I disagreed with," he said. "Germany produces quality product, labour costs are not high, but administration and managers very often mismanage ... businesses."
Airtrax president Peter Amico said that, if the parties entered a definitive contract, Airtrax intended to produce its innovative ATX-Sidewinder omni-directional forklift at the German plant.
"This arrangement could help transform Airtrax into a global player virtually overnight," he said.
Airtrax intended to begin production of the new forklifts in the USA in mid-2003.
The letter of intent, dated April 28, conveys several rights between Airtrax and Mr Filipov. In essence, it calls for Airtrax, in 30 months, to provide USD5 million to Mr Filipov via a stock valuation, cash or additional Airtrax shares.
One provision calls for Airtrax to sell agreed-upon securities and, after commissions, distribute the proceeds as working capital, with 80 percent going to FiLCO and 20 percent to Airtrax.
Airtrax intends to appoint Mr Filipov to its board of directors and, at that time, convey 100,000 unrestricted Airtrax shares to him.
FiLCO, owned by the Filipov family, has leased the 200,000-square-foot Mulheim Clark plant for 18 months, from August 1, and taken an option to purchase the plant and real estate for EUR4.7 million (USD5.1 million).
Clark was a major forklift maker in Europe before its insolvency late last year, and had 2000 sales of more than USD100 million, according to Airtrax.
FiLCO was "completely separate" and had "nothing to do with Terex [Corporation] or my job as head of the Terex Cranes business", Mr Filipov said.
Airtrax has a research and development agreement with the US Navy to commercialise omni-directional forklift technology, originally purchased from a Swedish inventory.
Airtrax last year recorded a USD641,000 loss on sales of USD551,000.