Palfinger Deploys CFO to China to Develop Sany Venture

Palfinger AG is deploying Chief Financial Officer Christoph Kaml to China as a tie-up with Sany Heavy Industry Co. promises to make the world’s second-biggest economy the Austrian crane maker’s largest market.

Kaml, 38, together with his wife and two children, will move to Changsha in central China’s Hunan province later this month and stay there for three years, Chief Executive Officer Herbert Ortner said in an interview in Vienna today.

“This simply is the most efficient way” to develop the partnership, Ortner said.

Sany is China’s biggest maker of excavators and is run by billionaire Liang Wengen. Changsha-based Sany and Bergheim-based Palfinger, the world’s biggest maker of truck-mounted cranes, agreed in February to invest 900 million yuan ($142 million) in a venture to make and sell mobile cranes.

Kaml’s move follows a strategy announced in September by French power-industry equipment manufacturer Schneider Electric SA to post some top managers to Hong Kong, including Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pascal Tricoire and his family, to support expansion in Asia.

The Palfinger-Sany plant in Changsha will probably start operations before the end of September, Ortner said. China is likely to become Palfinger’s biggest generator of revenue in the coming five years, he said.

Palfinger is betting that in 2012, growth in the Americas, Russia and Asia will “more than compensate” for economic decline and “uncertainty” in Europe, enabling a “moderate” increase in group sales this year, Ortner said.

First-half revenue rose 12 percent to 465.1 million euros ($562 million), Palfinger said today. Annual sales have risen by about 29 percent in each of the last two years, coming in at 845.7 million euros in 2011.

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