COMPANY NEWS CRTE of China takes over Wirth TBM business27 Nov 2013
Shani Wallis and Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
News emerging from China is that CRTE, China Railway Tunnelling Equipment Co Ltd, has acquired intellectual property rights ownership of Wirth TBM and shaft boring machine technology from current owner Aker Wirth. As part of the deal CRTE acquires the right to use the Wirth brand name on TBMs and shaft boring machines based on the acquired technology.
Celebrations of the CRTE-Wirth collaboration: CRTE Chairman Li Jiangbin and Aker Wirth Vice Chairman Øistein Widding sign the takeover agreement together with CRTE General Manager, Ms Hang Yali, and former Wirth Chairman Niko Kleuters (third and second from right)
This brings a further change of structure for the Wirth TBM manufacturing business and one that promises to provide the stability and commitment needed to preserve the Wirth manufacturing expertise and legacy.
At a ceremony in China, CRTE Chairman Li Jiangbin and Aker Wirth Vice Chairman Øistein Widding signed the takeover agreement that transfers all intellectual property of the Wirth TBM and shaft boring machine division from its current Norwegian-owned German-based holding company to the new Chinese owners.
At the ceremony CRTE General Manager, Ms Hang Yali, explained the process of the transaction and presented the strategy and outlook of the business. CRTE is one of the largest manufacturers of tunnelling machines in China and the takeover of the Wirth TBM property introduces European standard hard rock and soft ground TBM design and manufacturing technology and a recognised and respected platform for launch into the international TBM marketplace.
Widder of Aker Wirth explained: "We had several companies interested in taking over the TBM manufacturing division, but CRTE was the most professional. It is the company that has the highest ambitions for the division and it is the company that we believe can develop the tunnelling business in the best way."
Former Wirth Co-Owner and Chairman Niko Kleuters also attended the signing ceremony as a Senior Consultant of CRTE, which is a China state-owned company.
The TBM and shaft boring machine business was described by Aker Wirth as being not in line with its company development strategy and negotiations with potential international buyers took a road towards today's agreement when CRTE made contact with Aker Wirth and began transaction negotiations.
CRTE claims to be the largest Chinese TBM manufacturer, producing more than 60 units in the current year. Sun Heng, Chief of the CRTE Scientech Development Department told TunnelTalk that CRTE has a 50% share of the EPBM market in China and added that it supplied two EPBMs in 2012 to the Kuala Lumpur Klang Valley MRT project in Malaysia via CTE Ltd marketing company. As a division of the giant state-owned conglomerate, China Railway Engineering Corporation, the EPBMs will be used in Kuala Lumpur by the Corporation's tunnel construction division under a subcontract to main contractor and project developer MMC Gamuda.
"This was a landmark for our overseas strategy," said Sun Heng, adding that "the taking over of the Wirth hard rock TBM and shaft boring machine intellectual property will increase the CRTE competitive position in the hard rock TBM business".
Bunny Nooryani of Aker Solutions said: "Aker Solutions agreed to sell its German Aker Wirth tunnel-boring and shaft-boring technology to China Railway Tunneling Equipment Co Ltd (CRTE), as part of a plan to divest assets that don’t fit with its main offshore-services strategy. CRTE will acquire technological intellectual property rights and also gain the right to use the Wirth brand name on tunnel-boring and shaft-boring products that are based on the acquired technology. The transaction does not involve the transfer of any Aker Solutions employees, and the manufacturing facility in Erkelenz, Germany, will remain part of the company's drilling technologies business. The parties agreed not to disclose the value of the transaction, which is set to be completed in December 2013. The transaction will have limited financial impact for Aker Solutions."
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