22 September 2006  Bekaert further enhances its leadership position in China


Bekaert has reached an agreement in order to acquire a minority shareholding (18.85%) in Shougang Concord Century Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed company which is active in the manufacturing of steel cord. The subscription to 250 million new shares to be issued represents an investment of HK$162.5 million (€ 16.5 million).

By entering into this new partnership, Bekaert goes one step further in its efforts to develop valuing partnerships and to consolidate its leadership position in the Chinese market. Bekaert has gone through a major expansion of its activities in China over the recent years and intends to further strengthen its relationships with local market players.

Shougang Concord Century Holdings Ltd. welcomes Bekaert’s participation and support in the company’s growth, especially in the expansion of its steel cord business.

Both parties have outlined the scope for closer collaboration in material supply and services, thereby combining the benefits of a strong worldwide top quality supplier with the intimate knowledge of the Chinese market and the support of the authorities at all levels.

Today Bekaert is a leading player in steel cord for tire reinforcement in China, with production plants in Jiangyin (Jiangsu Province), Shenyang (Liaoning Province) and Weihai (Shandong Province). The company has strengthened its position in the Chinese steel cord market which shows sustained, rapid growth. Customers also take the benefit of Bekaert’s technological leadership. New steel cord products are being developed in its technical center in Jiangyin, according to the specific needs of the Chinese tire industry. In order to meet customer demand, Bekaert has increased its production capacity for steel cord products in China up to 200 000 tonnes annually.

With its plants in Jiangyin, Shanghai, Changzhou and Wuxi, Bekaert is also extending market positions in its other advanced wire products. The company develops its activities in advanced materials and coatings for the Asian market out of its production facility in Suzhou.

Shougang Concord Century Holdings Limited ("Shougang Century") has been listed on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited since April 1992. Shougang Holding (Hong Kong) Limited and Shougang Concord International Enterprises Company Limited are the substantial shareholders of Shougang Century. The Group is primarily involved in the manufacturing of steel cord as well as in the processing and trading of copper and brass products (www.shougangcentury.com.hk).

The agreement is, amongst others, subject to regulatory approvals, but both parties anticipate a timely closing of the transactions.