Materials Handling Online -- November 24, 2000
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SYDNEY, Australia -- Brambles Industries Ltd has sold its Australian forklift rental business to US company Nacco Materials Handling Group (NMHG), manufacturer of Hyster and Yale forklifts.

Brambles chief executive officer John Fletcher said the sale, foreshadowed at the company's November 10 annual general meeting, would generate close to A$84m and result in a "modest after-tax loss".

The Australian materials handling industry had, since September, believed NMHG was a leading contender for the purchase of the fleet business, which was described in Brambles' annual report as "not expected to continue to grow in the short term" and "facing a period of cyclical downturn and intense competitive pressure".

NMHG Asia-Pacific Pty Ltd spokesman Andrew Dickson told in September that no "official" negotiations had been entered into.

NMHG has the second-largest fleet rental company in Australia, behind Brambles. The group has more than 3000 machines throughout Australia, ranging from less than one-tonne to 48-tonne trucks. The acquisition of Brambles' estimated 5000 units means NMHG will be Australia's largest forklift rental company.

Mr Fletcher said the sale was a "good outcome for shareholders, given the rapidly deteriorating equipment rental market".

"Structural changes in the forklift rental market globally, resulting from the emergence of financial institutions and manufacturers as competitors, meant future returns from these activities will not meet Brambles' long-term objectives," he said.

Brambles has already announced that a key part of a new five-year strategy would be shifting investment from low-growth to high-growth business.

At the annual general meeting, Mr Fletcher said a sale of the Gardemann access equipment business in Germany was also being considered.

Brambles' annual report said: "Trends in the European forklift rental business were similar to the Australian experience ... Because of this, the company is attempting to divest its forklift activities on both continents".

NMHG Asia-Pacific managing director Donna Baxter said the Brambles acquisition was an "excellent strategic fit" for the company.

"The combination ... creates the first national forklift rental business, with a presence in every state in Australia," she said.

Ms Baxter said NMHG would now expand its coverage in Australia, and look to employ additional support personnel to better service its clients.
The sale would be subject to approval by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, but ACCC chairman Allan Fels was unavailable for comment at press time.
WESTPORT, USA -- A TBM Holdings subsidiary has completed its acquisition of Blue Giant Ltd's assets from Clark MHC Inc for US$9.5 million.

TBM's new subsidiary, Blue Giant Equipment Corporation, also acquired some assets of Blue Giant Corporation, Clark's subsidiary based in Pell City, Alabama, for US$1.5 million.

Clark announced it had signed a letter of intent with TBM in September. The move followed Clark, Blue Giant Corporation and Hydroelectric Lift Trucks Inc, another subsidiary, filing voluntary petitions for reorganisation under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in April.

Citing difficulties with high costs and a "leveraged capital position", the move gave the company time, under federal protection from creditors, to develop and implement a plan to meet its debts and remain in business.

Blue Giant Equipment will manufacture materials handling equipment, lift tables and dock equipment.
CARY, USA -- An advanced seat suspension damping system, developed for commercial, industrial, agricultural and construction vehicles, has been found to reduce shock levels and health problems, including lower back pain, displacement of invertebral discs and osteoarthritis.

Lord Corporation's Steven McManus presented a paper on the Motion Master ride management system at the 2nd International Conference on Whole-Body Vibration Injuries, held on November 7-9 in Siena, Italy.

Lord Corporation, based in Cary, North Carolina, is a private company which designs and manufactures devices and systems to reduce mechanical motion and control noise. The company employs more than 2300 people in 10 countries worldwide, including Africa, Australia, Japan and Latin America.

Mr McManus unveiled results of a series of tests developed and conducted with vibration experts Dr Subhash Rakheja and Dr Paul-Emile Boileau, of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The tests were designed to compare the shock and vibration protection of a popular suspended truck seat, with a standard passive damper, and the same seat, with the Motion Master system installed.

These tests showed the system reduced overall shock transmissions to the driver by reducing impacts with the suspension's end-stops, without sacrificing overall vibration isolation.

Drivers who used the new system reported feeling less tired and physically strained after prolonged use.

The system uses controllable magnetic fluid, providing varying levels of softness that automatically adapt to changing levels of shock and motion 500 times per second.


JAPAN -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, after recording a loss of Y38.71 billion for the first half of fiscal year 1999, has posted a pre-tax profit of Y10.91 billion for the same period this year.

The company's full-year reporting date is March 31, 2001.

The Japan Times said the company, which recently entered a global alliance with Nissan Motor Co Ltd, attributed the profit to improved performance in midsize manufactured products, such as air conditioning, forklifts and machines tools.

In the Forklift Action newsletter #9, the article "Hannover Fair-to-average" wrongly referred to Expo 2000 as "the biggest showcase for the global materials handling industry". The industry regards the Hannover Messe's biannual materials handling display, called CeMAT, instead as the largest display of its kind. CeMAT ran in March this year at the same venue as Expo 2000, to which the article referred. Forklift Action apologises for the error.

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