The Company That Rumbled VW Has Some Big Plans

  • Opus’s sensing technology identified VW emissions manipulation
  • New CEO plans to add as many as 10 new markets by 2021

Opus Group AB, the Swedish vehicle inspector whose remote sensing technology identified emissions manipulation in Volkswagen AG and Audi AG diesel engines, is forging ahead with an international expansion, seizing opportunities to increase its global footprint as governments introduce measures to control pollution and make driving safer.

Under new Chief Executive Officer Lothar Geilen, who takes the helm on April 1, Molndal, Sweden-based Opus plans to add 5 to 10 new markets and increase the number of employees to 3,000 to 4,000 over the next five years, potentially more than doubling the current count of almost 1,700.

“We’ve put forward a pretty aggressive growth plan so a lot of my focus will be on delivering on that,” Geilen said in a March 15 phone interview. “That includes international expansion to first and foremost Latin America, where we already have a foot in the door and also into, most likely, the Asian region.” Opus also intends to expand its vehicle service activities, he said.

Magnus Greko, who co-founded the company 26 years ago, is handing over the reins after expanding into the U.S. and more than tripling annual revenue over the last five years. The company, which unveiled its new strategic plan for the 2017-2021 period last month, is seeking to increase revenue to $400 million from $200 million and grow earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization to $100 million from $40 million. It’s targeting an Ebitda margin of 25 percent, up from the current 20 percent.

By 2021, the company expects Latin America, Asia and other developing markets to account for some 24 percent of total revenues.

Opus ranks as the world’s seventh-largest vehicle inspector and has recently entered countries including Argentina, Chile and Pakistan as well as expanding existing operations in Sweden and the U.S. Geilen may also seek to add European countries and is also considering Asian countries such as India, he said.

“India is a very interesting market because the cabinet has approved a motor-vehicle act that includes the requirement of vehicle inspection for transport vehicles and it’s currently in the parliament for ratification,” Geilen said. “We expect that to go through and the states are already working on procurement preparation in India.”

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