Metair Investments said yesterday its CEO Sjoerd Douwenga had decided to resign, also as an executive director, for health reasons, from January 31, 2024, and that a European subsidiary may face a probe due to possible anti-competitive behaviour.
The share price did not react well to the announcements and fell by more than 5% Wednesday afternoon.
Douwenga was first appointed to Metair’s board in 2014, and he first served as chief financial officer before recently being appointed as CEO.
“The board wishes him all the best in his future endeavours,” a statement said.
The board said Metair’s leadership team remained stable, experienced, and skilled and a recruitment process was underway to identify a successor, while a plan was in place to ensure leadership continuity during the transition.
Douwenga would also remain available to Metair until March 31, 2024 for an orderly handover.
Regarding a commitment to keep the market updated on the status of the Ford Project in South Africa, one of the largest capital expenditure projects underway in the automotive sector and a major driver of growth for Metair’s Automotive Components Vertical, the board said Ford Project volumes were progressing in line with expectations.
Group investee companies involved in the project continued to perform according to expectations.
At the associate investment company Hesto Harnesses (Hesto), commercial negotiations were positive. A commercial price adjustment, including cash compensation from July 2023 to compensate for, among others, a big increase in product design complexities introduced during the ramp-up phase, was in final approval stages with the customer.
The proposed adjustment was expected to result in a meaningful uplift in revenues and operating profit to be generated by Hesto over the remaining model life, Metair’s board said.
“Hesto has taken significant steps to enhance efficiencies and reduce costs internally. Metair, Hesto's technical partner and customer, remains committed and is actively working closely to ensure the long-term success of this project and sustainability of Hesto to the benefit of all parties,” the board said.
They said its subsidiary in Romania, Rombat SA (Rombat), had received an advance copy of an objection from the European Commission that had been circulated to several manufacturers of lead-acid starter batteries.
The Commission, as the main European Union antitrust regulator, claimed that the manufacturers, including Rombat, might have potentially violated EU antitrust rules in automotive lead-acid starter batteries between 2004 and 2017.
Rombat was considering the statement at present. In line with confidentiality obligations, it was prohibited from disclosing any further information at this stage. Metair said, however, that it and Rombat were committed to conducting their business in full compliance with European law.