Teijin Ltd. (3401), a supplier of carbon fiber to Airbus Group NV, is considering acquisitions and partnerships in Southeast Asia with companies involved in using the material to make components.
Such a move would be an expansion for the Osaka-based company away from pure fiber production and may involve a purchase of several billion yen, Takashi Yoshino, an executive officer who heads Teijin’s carbon fibers and composites business, said May 19 in an interview in Tokyo.
“Rather than carbon-fiber producers we’re looking downstream,” he said. “Companies in the U.S. have already merged and become quite large but there are still opportunities in Southeast Asia.”
The world’s second-largest maker of carbon fiber and supplier for the Airbus A380 superjumbo is looking to go beyond just making the material. Toray Industries Inc. (3402) last year said it would buy U.S. carbon-fiber maker Zoltek Companies Inc.
Teijin is working with General Motors Co. (GM) on technology that cuts carbon-fiber molding time and costs to enable mass production for passenger cars. Research is “progressing smoothly,” Yoshino said.
“The market for cars could be enormous,” he said. “We’re doing lots of tests. We’d like to make it a business” by around 2020.
Auto Industry Push
Teijin remains interested in building a new factory in the U.S. in the next few years to meet demand expected to come from the auto industry and from the development of shale gas projects, Yoshino said.
The company, which counts the aerospace industry as its largest buyer of carbon fiber, is also trying to expand its customer base by chasing supply contracts with Boeing Co. for new planes such as the 777X, Yoshino said.
The global market for carbon fiber is forecast to grow at an annual rate of more than 15 percent by 2020 as customers look to lightweight materials to increase fuel efficiency, according to a Sept. 28 presentation by Teijin.