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Manz Seeks to Buy Battery Companies as Electric-Car Market Grows

Manz AG (M5Z), a German maker of equipment for flat-panel displays and solar power, is seeking to buy battery-technology companies to diversify as the electric-car market grows.

Manz has already identified small companies as targets because of their technological potential and market value, Chief Executive Officer Dieter Manz said in an interview in Munich, without identifying any.

“In three to four years, there will be a very big opportunity for batteries,” Manz said. “If the electric-car market really picks up, auto companies won’t be able to make all the batteries, so there will be a lot of new entrants.”

The market for electric and hybrid cars has grown as governments introduce tax credits, fuel-economy requirements and other measures to get cleaner vehicles on the roads, reducing dependence on oil, cutting emissions and adding jobs. Advances in battery technology have helped boost vehicles’ range and cut costs, attracting new consumers.

Manz expects 2012 sales to match last year’s as demand grows for touch panels on phones, tablets and lithium-ion batteries, the Reutlingen-based company said last month.

Manz may also make vacuum tools in China for its touch- panel business, setting up operations itself or buying companies, according to the CEO, who founded the company in 1987. “But this is nothing big, maybe a 10 to 20 million-euro investment,” he said.

The company posted a first-quarter loss before interest and tax of 4.9 million euros ($6.2 million), citing a “difficult” solar market as prices drop. Manz has about 2,000 employees and operates plants in Germany, China, Taiwan, Slovakia and Hungary.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.net; Gelu Sulugiuc in Copenhagen at gsulugiuc@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net.

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