May 3, 2017 / 10:04 AM / a year ago

Bosnia's Prevent has no plans to take over Grammer: Handelsblatt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bosnian auto supplier Prevent has no plans to launch a full takeover of rival Grammer AG (GMMG.DE), and expects carmakers like Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) to honor their contracts, Prevent executive Christian Becker told German daily Handelsblatt.

The comments come after automotive interiors maker Grammer warned that the growing influence of Bosnia’s Hastor family, which owns Prevent and has a more than 20 percent stake in Grammer, has led carmakers to pare back business with the German company.

“Reports about a takeover or a transfer of business to other locations are pure speculation. We do not aim to launch a takeover,” Becker, who heads up Prevent DEV, told the paper’s Wednesday edition.

Prevent has demanded it get seats on Grammer’s supervisory board as a way to tighten its grip on the German company. Prevent has declined to detail its plans for Grammer, but demanded that Grammer raise the level of profitability.

“Thanks to our experience in the automotive area we are a different investor than a bank or an investment fund. We demand more because we understand more about the business,” the paper quoted Becker as saying.

Grammer’s management has said that order intake has halved since the Hastor family increased its influence, without elaborating further.

Becker also said Prevent wants to increase its business with Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE). A dispute between the Hastors and Volkswagen escalated last year, resulting in stoppages at VW’s Golf assembly line.

“Just as VW expects this from us, we too expect contractual reliability,” Becker told the paper.

In a separate interview in Handelsblatt, Grammer’s Chief Executive Hartmut Mueller said the Bosnian investor group has not explained its motives for demanding seats on the supervisory board, and has made any dialogue conditional on an extraordinary shareholder’s meeting being called first.

Grammer has declined to call such a meeting and has instead sought to bring in a white knight investor, China’s Ningbo Jifeng, to dilute the Hastor family’s influence.

Mueller said Grammer was continuing its efforts to improve profitability. Grammer aims to raise its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margin to 5 percent in 2017, from about 4.3 percent currently.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Susan Fenton

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