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Container lessor Touax eyes growth in Africa
France’s Touax, which lets and sells shipping containers, modular buildings, river barges and railcars, wants to triple the portion of sales it makes in Africa in the next two to three years, its co-managing partner said.Faced with weak growth at home in Europe, Touax expanded in Africa with the purchase of Moroccan modular buildings group Sacmi last year.
Touax now hopes to take Africa sales to 15 percent of the total, up from the 5 percent reached after the integration of Sacmi, by expanding its services there, Fabrice Walewski told Reuters, adding that more acquisitions were also possible.
“We have a large African development ahead of us,” Walewski said, adding that the group would start offering to sell and lease “base camps” - or temporary buildings for workers - to the mining, oil, gas and construction sectors.
“Our ambition is to have at least 15 percent of sales made on the African continent in the medium-term,” said Walewski, who heads the company alongside brother Raphael.
Touax, listed in Paris since 1906, generates around 45 percent of sales from letting and selling shipping containers. It posted a 12.6 percent like-for-like rise in sales to 260 million euros ($347 million) in the nine months to Sept. 30.
Walewski said Touax could make more acquisitions in Africa in the medium-term, mainly small modular building companies with large local market shares, though nothing was likely before the end of 2013.
In its other businesses, he said Touax planned to grow organically.
Touax warned in November that the economic crisis in Europe would hurt its modular buildings business and that weak growth in the region may have a temporary impact on profitability.
Walewski said he remained confident about future growth, however, thanks mainly to expansion outside Europe, where it now generated more than half of total sales for the first time.
In its core shipping containers business, forecasts for growth in containerized traffic, closely linked to world trade trends, are better for 2013 than last year, Walewski said, rising to about 7 percent from 5 percent.
“The impact of the quite strong European slowdown is offset today by a recovery in the U.S and volumes keeping up very well in Asia,” he said.
Alongside its development in Africa, Walewski said Touax expected to generate significant leasing revenue this year from some 25 new river barges, which were delivered at the end of last year in South America.
The river barges business should represent around 10 percent of sales in 2013, Walewski said, up from 7 percent in 2011. (Reuters)
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