Johnson to set up plant in Malaysia

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The Independent Online
JOHNSON MATTHEY, the world's biggest manufacturer of catalytic converters, is in talks to set up a plant in Malaysia to supply the fast-growing Asian car market.

The UK advanced materials and precious metals specialist hopes to reach agreement with a joint-venture partner in the next six months and bring the plant on stream by the beginning of 1995.

Initial output from the plant, which is expected to cost about dollars 9m-dollars 10m, would be about 500,000 units a year. However, Johnson Matthey believes volumes could rise to 2 million by the end of the decade as the car population grows in Asia and environmental standards become more demanding.

The company is also forecasting a huge expansion in demand for catalytic systems fitted to motorcycles in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.

Johnson Matthey has catalytic converter plants in the US, Britain, Belgium, Australia and South Africa and supplies about a third of world demand.

After recording a 25 per cent rise in operating profits last year to pounds 27.1m, the company's catalytic systems division is likely to report flat or falling earnings this year.

This is because of a sharp fall in European car sales, only partly offset by new legislation that required the fitting of converters to all new cars from 1 January, 1993.