9 May 2003  Bekaert will build a third plant and double its Steel Cord Capacity in China by 2005

Bekaert announces today that it has decided to double its current steel cord production capacity in China by the end of 2005.  This will be realised by expanding the capacity of its two existing plants and building a new third plant.

Bekaert has already a long-standing tradition to supply the tyre manufacturers in China with steel cord.  In the 80’s Bekaert supplied this market through imports from Belgium.  In 1992, Bekaert established a joint venture (China Bekaert Steel Cord Cy – CBSC) with the Fasten Group to set up its first steel cord production facility in Jiangyin, Jiangsu Province.  CBSC successfully started up in 1995.  In 1998, further recognising the potential of the Chinese steel cord market, Bekaert established a second joint venture (Bekaert Shenyang Steel Cord Cy – BSSC) with the Shenyang Wire Rod Cy hereby acquiring an existing steel cord facility in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.  Both companies have shown a continuous growth and the combined production capacity of CBSC and BSSC currently reaches approx 45,000 tonnes of tyre cord.  Bekaert’s sales of tyre cord in China in 2002 represent more than 40% market share.

The steel tyre cord market in China has shown since 1997 an average growth rate of over 25% per year.  Over the next 3 to 4 years this market is expected to double again due to a combination of economic growth and a further radialisation of the tyres.

Following its strategy to achieve half of the growth of the Chinese tyre cord market, Bekaert has decided to implement an aggressive expansion programme.  Bekaert will, in first instance further expand the capacity of its existing plants in Jiangyin (CBSC) and Shenyang (BSSC) up to 80,000 to 90,000 tonnes by the end of 2005.  It has also started the preparation for a third plant, 100% owned by Bekaert, in the North East of the Shandong Province.  This new plant, which will have an initial capacity of 10,000 tonnes of tyre cord, is expected to become operational in 2005.  Total investment is estimated at 180 to 200 million euros.

This major investment will allow Bekaert to perfectly serve its customers in the fast growing radial tyre industry in China with top quality steel tyre cord.  It will also allow Bekaert to further strengthen its world-wide leadership in steel cord.