IAG Net Profit Boosted By Thailand Pull-Out

Australia’s Insurance Australia Group (IAG) announced that its net profit for the financial year ended 30 June 2019 jumped by nearly 17 per cent to A$1.08 billion, more than the A$1 billion predicted by local analysts.

The main factors in IAG’s profit jump are the sale of its Thai operations, strong performance by its Australian Personal Insurance division and strong growth in New Zealand.

Profit in the insurance division dropped by 13 per cent due to large natural disaster claims, but the sale of the Thailand operations brought in profit of more than A$200 million.

Hyundai Appoints John Kett As Chief Operating Officer

Hyundai Australia has announced the appointment of John Kett to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

Kett has a 30-year international career in the automotive industry, holding senior positions at General Motors, Shanghai Auto Industry Corp, Ssangyong Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. He has been based in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Korea and China.

“It is a great honour to join Australia’s third-largest car company as Chief Operating Officer,” said Kett. “Hyundai’s ambition, both in Australia and globally, is unrivalled – not only for its pace in product development, but for its determined movement into autonomy, hydrogen, electric vehicles, mobility services and connectivity. I’m sure we will see even more success in the years to come, and I look forward to being part of that success.”

“John has an impressive track record in the automotive industry and has achieved great results throughout his long career,” said JW Lee, Hyundai Australia CEO. “I am sure he will be a highly successful and inspirational Chief Operating Officer.”

Axalta Promotes Troy Weaver To Vice President, Global Refinish

Axalta Coating Systems announced that Troy Weaver has been promoted to Vice President, Global Refinish, effective immediately. Weaver will report directly to CEO, Robert Bryant.

“We are thrilled to promote Troy to head up our Global Refinish business and add him to Axalta’s leadership team,” said Bryant. “Troy’s experience, in virtually every aspect of our Refinish business during the past 27 years, positions him extraordinarily well to be the next leader of this cornerstone business. His deep institutional knowledge of our Refinish business and the industry, his long-standing relationships with customers ranging from multi-shop operators to independent body shop owners, and his strong business acumen and sales and marketing expertise, make him a perfect fit for this leadership role.”

“Our Refinish business will continue to be an industry innovation leader,” continued Bryant. “We are committed to consistently delivering the exceptional products and services that our customers want. Troy has played a critical role in developing the plan that has driven our strong track record of growth and success.  We are confident that his vision for the future will help us grow our Refinish business and industry-leading position.”

“We are proud to have another internal promotion on our leadership team,” concluded Bryant. “We believe the expertise, understanding, and continuity that our next generation of leaders, like Troy, brings new thinking and enhances our culture. Troy will be a great addition to our leadership team, and we expect that he will continue to differentiate our Refinish business through innovation, while he and his team deliver value to customers every day.”

Prior to his promotion, Weaver was Axalta’s Vice President, North America Refinish where he was responsible for Axalta’s Refinish business in the USA and Canada.  He began his career at DuPont Performance Coatings in 1992, and has held various sales and marketing leadership roles. He is also a two-time recipient of DuPont’s Prestigious Marketing Excellence Award, first in 2007 and again in 2010. Weaver is active in the industry and has served as Chairman of the Board of the CIECA (Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association).

3M, Saint-Gobain Settle Paint Spray Patent Dispute

3M Company and Saint-Gobain Abrasives Inc. announced that they have settled a long-standing patent dispute in Europe relating to 3M’s Paint Preparation System and Saint-Gobain’s Norton Paint Systems brands.

The settlement covers infringement actions brought by 3M under several European patents against Saint-Gobain Abrasives in Germany and in France. It also covers corresponding actions by Saint-Gobain Abrasives in both countries and before the European Patent Office.

The settlement concluded between the two companies includes the resolution of all disputes and a release of Saint-Gobain’s NPS products under 3M’s paint spray technology related patents.

Nissan Plans To Cut 12,500 Jobs Globally

Nissan intends to axe more than 12,500 jobs around the world by 2022, with most of the cuts coming in Europe.

The Japanese car manufacturer is suffering from falling sales in the US, one of its biggest overseas markets, following years of heavy discounts.

The global plan includes the 4800 job cuts announced in May and will mostly be at factories in South America and other regions where Nissan’s profitability is low.

The cuts, exceeding nine percent of Nissan’s 138,000-strong workforce, highlight the extent of problems facing Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who is also grappling with fractured relations with French alliance partner Renault, which owns 43 per cent of the Japanese manufacturer, following the arrest of their shared former chairman, Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan, which has about 138,000 employees worldwide, warned in May that its operating profit would fall to the lowest level in 11 years after posting a 98.5 per cent plunge in first-quarter operating profit.

BASF To Axe 6000 Jobs Worldwide

BASF announced that it would cut around 6000 jobs worldwide by 2021, with half of those slashed in Germany. The workforce reductions will impact operations globally and are expected to generate savings of €300 million.

In a statement, the company said the move was an “organisational realignment” that would “streamline administration and simplify processes”, as part of an overall aim to have a smaller corporate headquarters and a stronger role for regional operations.

The majority of the jobs being cut in Germany will affect the company headquarters in Ludwigshafen, where 40,000 people are employed.

BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller said he wants to implement massive savings in all areas – in production and logistics as well as in research and development – and to sell off BASF subsidiaries.

Brudermüller is targeting a €2 billion earnings boost as he simplifies BASF and makes it more in tune with rapidly changing markets.

Daimler AG And BMW Group To Develop Automated Vehicles

BMW Group and Daimler AG have signed an agreement to develop autonomous driving technologies. The representative of the two companies planned a collaboration earlier this year and now an official agreement for long-term strategic cooperation has been signed.

Initially, the aim would be to co-develop technologies for driver assistance systems, highly automated driving on highways and automated parking. Additional discussions are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres. The market launch in series vehicles out of this co-development is scheduled for 2024, with the partners implementing technologies independently in their respective series vehicles.

The two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective series products independently. The cooperation will see more than 1200 specialists working together, often in mixed teams. They will be based at locations including the BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, near Munich, the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre (MTC) in Sindelfingen and the Daimler Testing and Technology Centre in Immendingen.

Along with Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, Continental, Fiat Chrysler, HERE, Infineon, Intel and Volkswagen, the BMW Group and Daimler have published a white paper entitled Safety First for Automated Driving. As well as covering all relevant safety methods for Level 3/4 SAE automated driving, the paper introduces a traceability system, which extends from the primary goal – being safer than the average driver – right down to the individual safety objectives of the various components. The paper was published on 2 July 2019.

Messe Frankfurt Reports Record Growth

Trade show organiser Messe Frankfurt announced that its sales grew seven per cent in 2018, achieving record levels. Messe Frankfurt is the organiser of the Automechanika brand of fairs worldwide.

Wolfgang Marzin, President and CEO of Messe Frankfurt, announced at a press conference that the group succeeded in setting a new record of around €718 million in sales.

Officials noted that Messe Frankfurt is retaining its third-place position in a challenging and international competitive environment, as well as being well ahead of all German competitors and all worldwide trade fair companies with its own exhibition infrastructure.

According to the annual financial statements for financial year 2018, Messe Frankfurt’s consolidated annual net income for 2018 was more than €50 million, around 25 per cent up on 2017.

With a total of 507 events worldwide in financial year 2018, more events were held under the Messe Frankfurt umbrella than ever before, drawing almost five million people.

“The very high levels of customer satisfaction throughout our various industry sectors are central to the success of our events worldwide,” Marzin said.

Axalta To Build New, State-Of-The-Art Facility In The Netherlands

Axalta signed an agreement to develop a new, state-of-the-art facility in the Netherlands for its Dutch refinish business.

Once construction is completed, Axalta’s global refinish brands in the Netherlands – Cromax, Spies Hecker, Standox, and Syrox – will relocate to the new facility on Business Park Medel, both in Tiel.

The facility will also house Metalak BV.

“There has been a period of growth and change following our acquisition of Metalak in 2015,” said Adrien Schrobiltgen, Axalta’s VP for Refinish Systems in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We have outgrown our current location’s ability to support us in the way in which we need it.”

Axalta’s plot in Business Park Medel is 12,000 square metres and will house, once completed, a large facility comprised of office space over three floors, a warehouse, and a new Axalta training centre as well as separate mixing room, which is part of Axalta’s direct business point of distribution, servicing both high-volume customers as well as local colour development.

“We are always looking to improve our level of support to our customers, so today, with a view to the future, we commit to building a state-of-the-art facility,” said Bas van de Ven, Axalta’s managing director for Refinish in the Netherlands “The new training centre will be able to meet the future needs of the market, while the new offices and sophisticated automated warehouse will allow us to take our daily operations to the next level and to attract and to retain outstanding talent.”

Ground is due to be broken on the site in October 2019, with an anticipated completion date by summer 2020. The facility will be operational and ready to move into by September 2020.

Adrien Schrobiltgen, Axalta VP for Refinish Systems in EMEA.

Solera’s Autodata Acquires AutoMate Training

Autodata Publishing Group, a Solera Holdings group company, has confirmed the acquisition of AutoMate Training, a provider of online technical training and professional development platforms to the automotive industry.

Founded and based in Sydney, Australia, Solera says AutoMate has rapidly expanded from a fledgling start-up to become a globally competitive player, offering automotive eLearning to thousands of automotive professionals and workshops in more than 60 countries. The company says AutoMate’s online training programmes are developed by a highly-experienced team of automotive experts and specialists, with the programmes combining cutting-edge 3D visualisation with comprehensive real-vehicle analysis.

Solera says that AutoMate and Autodata are both trusted and valued information service providers to more than 85,000 automotive workshops across the world, as well as corporate clients in the automotive service, maintenance and repair (“SMR”) industry. The company says Autodata itself is recognised as the go-to automotive data solution for workshops with many countries seeing 80 per cent of workshops choosing Autodata to meet their service, maintenance and diagnostics needs.

“Joining the Solera family is a logical and exciting next step on our strategic journey as a company,” said Jonathan Sampson, Managing Director and founder of AutoMate. “This union will see AutoMate’s renowned training programmes made available in new global markets and will ensure increased business growth through further product development. AutoMate’s eLearning expertise, combined with Autodata’s highly advanced diagnostic and repair data, promises to deliver new and existing customers a compelling suite of products for the automotive mechanic.”

“AutoMate’s innovative solutions and strong management team provide immediate value with Solera,” said Rod Williams, Managing Director of Autodata. “Together we provide immense value to Solera’s 400,000+ SMR users, enabling us to further capitalise on the opportunity to support both our existing users and beyond with AutoMate’s solutions.”