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Go-between helped to cement key tire deal

Updated: 2013-08-12 03:00
By Cecily Liu (China Daily)
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Having TIA on board for the deal also provides an assurance that Covpress' distinguished British heritage will not be lost, he says, because TIA's management team fully understands Covpress' culture, heritage and technical expertise.

"We want to maintain Covpress' heritage. We will assist Yongtai and any Yongtai management sent over to the UK in understanding that culture and heritage," Jones says.

The purchase delighted Covpress' previous management. The Coventry Telegraph quoted Mike Gillett, the managing director, describing the deal as "a huge leap forward" for the business.

"This Chinese investment is great news for Covpress, its employees, customers and suppliers and also for Coventry and the West Midlands. The deal will enable the firm to meet its ambition of being a leading global supplier in partnership with its ambitious new owners," he says.

Gillett reckons Covpress' sales are on track to reach $138 million this year, compared with $103 million last year.

The deal also won support from the local community. In July the Lord Mayor of Coventry gave a civic reception to welcome Yongtai and other parties in the deal, which is a rare occasion reserved only for special guests.

"The welcome Mr You and our chairman received was splendid," Jones says. "If (the Coventry community) felt any distrust about the ambition of Yongtai or TIA, there would not have been a civic reception."

The trust Yongtai placed in TIA to lead negotiations in the Covpress deal facilitated smooth communication and provides a good lesson for future China outbound acquisitions, says Ed Dawes, a partner at the international law firm Squire Sanders.

Dawes, who led a Squire Sanders team of more than 20 lawyers giving advice on the deal, says TIA's understanding of Britain's business culture helped greatly in the negotiations.

"Shandong wisely allowed the UK party to lead the negotiations with the sellers, so the sellers felt they were having negotiations with a UK party," Dawes says. "They knew it was a Chinese buyer, of course, but they were fronting with a party that was familiar with the local culture."

Yongtai's strategy of gaining sales channels through Covpress is logical because Covpress has a sales team that has established a long working relationship with the procurement team of British and European carmakers, Dawes says.

So although Covpress was supplying car parts to these European carmakers and Yongtai wishes to supply them tires, the trust built up between Covpress and its customers would greatly help.

"Covpress' understanding of what the customer requires and its expertise of ensuring that the products delivered match these requirements is valuable," Dawes says.

Yongtai must consistently supply good quality tires to maintain the trust between Covpress and its existing customers, he says. He feels Yongtai will achieve this because it has already consistently supplied tires to the European automotive aftermarket through TIA.

Dawes says Yongtai understands that the value of Covpress is its quality product and customer loyalty. Future China outbound acquisitions can follow Yongtai's example to identify the true strengths of a target and protect these strengths.

"Where buyers can get things wrong is if they believe price is the only factor. Price is important, but other components of value are essential too," he says.

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