– Technology Groups posts another year of success in India
-Chennai investment underlines long-term orientation
The worldwide technology group Freudenberg has continued its good business development despite challenging economic conditions. In 2017, the German group boosted sales to €9.3 billion or Rs. 68,959 crore. That constitutes a rise of 18.3 percent over the previous year. Freudenberg’s business also performed strongly in India, with sales growing by 25% to Rs. 2,768 crore. This rise is the result of continuous investments in existing and new projects. One example is a new production facility in Chennai.
In India, Freudenberg’s seven Business Groups have a total workforce of some 2,688 employees at around 50 locations – running six R&D centers and 14 production sites with state-of-the-art shop floors.
“We are on track. Our new facility in Chennai is an important next step – not only to grow, but also to underline our long-term commitment to the local market and to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative,” said Georg Graf, Freudenberg Regional Representative India, at the press conference in Chennai. The project has cleared all the legal hurdles and construction work at the site has started. The total investment is around 28 million Euro or Rs. 210 crores.
“These important decisions contribute to the sustainable growth of the entire Group. Both, operationally and strategically, 2017 was a successful year for Freudenberg worldwide,” Graf added. “We are well on our way to being one of the most innovative and efficient technology companies.” The company aims to balance its portfolio further towards generating one-third of sales each in Asia, North America and Europe. Graf said, “The Indian market plays a key role in our existing and future operations, and our diversified and innovative portfolio caters to the demands of India’s industry.”
Innovation is key to Freudenberg’s long-term corporate success. During the year under review, the Group invested more than ever before in innovation and conducted research and development activities in the amount of Rs. 3,157 crore (previous year: Rs. 2,764 crore. This corresponds to 4.6 percent of sales (previous year: 4.3 percent). The share of products less than four years old reached 33.0 percent. An average of 3,445 employees (previous year: 2,751 employees) were employed in research and development.
For Freudenberg, striving together for solutions that support global sustainability is part of its mission to improve living conditions all over the world. The Group’s sustainability strategy is based on six core themes. They are materials, waste, energy, emissions, water and health. “Our solutions are already used in many India industries and we continue to support our local partners with innovative and sustainable products and processes”, Georg Graf said.
The Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ product portfolio is engineered to reduce weight, fuel consumption, emissions and ease installation challenges in today’s start-of-the-art engines, transmissions and e-mobility platforms.
Freudenberg’s sustainable solutions for the food and apparel industries are essential to the daily lives of tens of millions of Indians. High-performance specialty lubricants from Klüber Lubrication, a Freudenberg Chemical Specialities company, ensure the safe production of condiments and dairy products, while simultaneously lowering energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Responsibility for society and Corporate Citizenship
As a values-oriented, family-owned technology group, success for Freudenberg is not merely defined in terms of financial success, but also always goes hand-in-hand with taking responsibility for society. These two goals have been inseparably linked since the foundation of the company. Sustainability, Occupational health, safety and environmental protection (HSE), Corporate Citizenship, Compliance, Human Rights & Labor are anchored in Freudenberg’s values and principles.
For Freudenberg, commitment to Corporate Citizenship goes beyond the value chain. In addition to a number of measures, the objective of the “e²” (education and environment) international program is to give people access to education and work and to encourage environmental protection. Freudenberg is currently making a total of €14 million available over 7 years. From the launch of the initiative in the summer of 2015 up to the end of 2017, funding was approved for 60 projects, from small actions to major education programs in the direct neighborhood of Freudenberg sites.
As part of its e² program, the Freudenberg Group and its local employees are fostering the education of poor children in Bengaluru. The Group is contributing financially to the Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a non-profit organization that local Freudenberg employees in India have been visiting over the years. Parikrma runs four centers for learning, including a kindergarten and school as well as a junior college, and has a clear mission: providing under-privileged children from the slums of Bengaluru with a high quality education, excellent English language skills and the confidence to dream big – even about international careers.
Freudenberg, the values-based technology group, works continuously to fulfill the promise of its global brand positioning statement: Freudenberg best serves its customers and society. The Freudenberg Training Centre in Nagapattinam, India is one more such initiative which lies at the heart of Freudenberg’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative in India. The Centre was originally established back in 2008, following the devastating tsunami which hit South East Asia in 2004. Freudenberg made it a point to give back to society through the provision of training for young people, opening up opportunities for them to help themselves, at the same time as boosting the region’s economy. “We recognize that skills development is essential as part of the drive to build on India’s socio-economic infrastructure. Bridging the critical gap between manpower availability and employability is important to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities,” said Georg Graf, Regional Representative India.
Car sector seeks more UK government support as output tumbles
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak should use next week’s budget statement to help boost the car industry’s competitiveness, a trade industry body said on Friday, as production tumbled to its lowest January level since 2009.
Sunak is due to detail how he will further support the economy amid COVID-19 restrictions on March 3.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the furlough scheme that protects jobs should be extended, more support for training was needed and manufacturing investment should be encouraged through reform of the business rates tax.
“Next week’s budget is the chancellor’s (finance minister) opportunity to boost the industry by introducing measures that will support competitiveness, jobs and livelihoods,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.
“We need to secure our medium to long-term future by creating the conditions that will attract battery gigafactory investment and transform the supply chain.”
Output in January fell by 27% year-on-year to 86,052 vehicles, hit by factors including dealership closures during a latest COVID-19 lockdown, international supply chain problems and the change in trading terms with the European Union.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by William Schomberg)
Exclusive: Portugal sees green hydrogen output by end-2022, $12 billion in investment lined up
By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal will start producing green hydrogen by the end of 2022 and already has private investment worth around 10 billion euros ($12 billion) lined up for eight projects that are expected to move forward, Environment Minister Joao Matos Fernandes said.
He told Reuters in a telephone interview there were also several “pre-contracts for the purchase and assembly of electrolysers” to produce the zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis out of water using renewable wind and solar energy.
Such hydrogen is more expensive to extract than the heavily polluting conventional method of using heat and chemical reactions to release hydrogen from coal or natural gas, known as brown and grey hydrogen respectively.
Hydrogen is now mostly used in the oil refining industry and to produce ammonia fertilisers, but sectors such as steelmaking, transportation and chemicals are beginning to develop large-scale hydrogen applications to gradually replace fossil fuels as countries try to reduce pollution.
The European Commission has mapped out a plan to scale up green hydrogen projects across polluting sectors to meet a net zero emissions goal by 2050 and become a leader in a market analysts expect to be worth $1.2 trillion by that date.
“By the end of 2022, there will certainly be green hydrogen production in Portugal,” Matos Fernandes said. “Green hydrogen will, over time, allow Portugal to completely change its paradigm and become an energy exporting country.”
He said seven groups had submitted applications under Europe’s IPCEI scheme for common-interest projects to make part of a planned export-oriented “hydrogen cluster” near the port of Sines, from where hydrogen could be shipped to Rotterdam. Total investment there is estimated at some 7 billion euros.
A consortium including Portugal’s main utility EDP, oil company Galp, world’s largest wind turbine maker Vestas, among others, is behind one of the projects.
In Estarreja in north Portugal, local firm Bondalti Chemicals aims to invest 2.4 billion euros in a hydrogen plant.
Altogether, these envisage an installed capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (MW).
Matos Fernandes said Portugal was also negotiating with Spain the construction of a pipeline for renewable gases, including hydrogen, from Sines to France, crossing Spain.
Spain and Portugal also want to develop an ambitious cross-border lithium project taking advantage of the geographical proximity of their lithium deposits and aiming to cover the entire value chain from mining to refining, cell and battery manufacturing to battery recycling, he said.
Portugal is already a large producer of low-grade lithium mainly for the ceramics industry, but is preparing to make higher-grade metal used in electric car batteries.
A much-awaited licensing tender for lithium-bearing areas that has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic should take place by the year-end, Matos Fernandes said.
He promised the tender would address environmental concerns by local communities and there would be no lithium mining “at any cost”.
The minister also said Portugal would use its six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union to finalise a landmark law that would make the bloc’s climate targets irreversible and speed up emissions cuts this decade, expecting it to be approved in the first half of 2021.
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Andrei Khalip and David Evans)
Under fire in EU, AstraZeneca CEO says ‘hopefully’ will meet vaccine supply goals
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot said on Thursday he hoped to meet the European Union’s expectations on the number of COVID-19 vaccines the company can deliver to the bloc in the second quarter, after big cuts in the first three months of the year.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has been under fire in the EU for its delayed supplies of shots to the 27-nation bloc, which ordered 300 million doses by the end of June.
“We are working 24/7 to improve delivery and hopefully catch up to the expectations for Q2,” Soriot told EU lawmakers in a public hearing.
Under its contract with the EU, the company has committed to delivering 180 million doses in the second quarter.
Soriot did not mention the 180 million target, but said he was confident the company will be able to increase production in the second quarter using factories outside the EU that had no production problems, including in the United States.
He confirmed the company was trying to get 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the EU by the end of March, which is less than half the amount it promised for the quarter in its contract.
The EU, which has fallen far behind the United States and former member Britain in vaccinating its public, has repeatedly urged the firm to deliver more.
Lower-than-expected yields – the amount of vaccine that can be produced from base ingredients – at its factories hurt output in the first three months.
Asked about supplies to Britain, which relies on the same factories used by the EU, Soriot said the former EU member with a population of around 66 million was smaller, and noted that most doses produced in the EU were used to serve the EU which has a population of about 450 million.
Executives from rival drugmakers that have developed or are testing COVID-19 vaccines, including Moderna Inc and CureVac NV were also part of the panel.
But most questions were directed at Soriot amid anger that the company has failed to deliver promised vaccine quantities to the bloc on schedule.
Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said the company has experienced fluctuations as the U.S. biotech group ramps up output of its COVID-19 vaccine.
He said usually a company would stockpile product ahead of a launch, but it is shipping every dose it makes, leaving it without any spare inventory.
His comments came a day after the company increased its output target for this year and 2022 as it invests in additional manufacturing capacity.
(Reporting by Josephine Mason in London and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Susan Fenton, Bill Berkrot and Keith Weir)
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