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Palfinger acquires Sky Aces

Palfinger is to establish Palfinger Platforms Italy Srl, a joint venture with Sky Aces headquartered in Bolzano, Italy.

The company, in which Palfinger holds a majority share, will specialise in the development, production and distribution of small truck mounted platforms. The joint venture will specifically focus on high volume lower cost units up to 3.5 tonnes.
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Palfinger already produces 3.5 tonne truck mounts, but they tend to be expensive and over sophisticated for many markets

The existing operating business of Sky Aces, building the Tunlift and Fanlift tunnel maintenance platforms will be transferred into the new company, while Sky Aces founder and managing director Paolo Balugani will head the new venture. Markets targeted by the new business will include municipalities, energy supply companies, infrastructure providers and rental companies.

Palfinger Platforms Italy will also take over the distribution of all Palfinger access products in Italy, while the new Italian built products will be distributed outside of Italy through the Palfinger distribution network. Initially the Italian built machines will only be sold in Europe, however the company plans to extend that worldwide at a later date.
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The Sky Aces Tunlift in action in Modena

Palfinger chief executive Herbert Ortner said: “We are pursuing two objectives with this joint venture. First, we want to open up the large and strongly growing market segment of access platforms for use on smaller trucks in the field of infrastructure preservation and maintenance. Secondly, through Palfinger Platforms Italy, we are planning to intensively develop the Italian market, which is of importance to us.”

Vertikal Comment

This is quite a surprise, and an excellent move for Paolo Balugani - founder and majority owner of Sky Aces - while it is also likely to boost Palfinger’s penetration of the 3.5 tonne market.

Palfinger has its own products within this market sector, but they tend to be designed for the top end of the German market, and thus expensive and overly sophisticated for many - if not most - users.

As a result the company has been unable to gain significant market share in the sector and has seen an increasing penetration of its domestic market by Italian producers, who tend to build simpler, more cost effective products.

Balugani, a founder of Oil & Steel, has until now been restricted from entering the mainstream truck mounted market by a non-compete clause following his departure from the company in early 2011. That will shortly expire allowing him to move back into the market, something he was planning on doing with or without Palfinger.

The Palfinger backing will dramatically change the prospects of such a move, in terms of volume potential and distribution. It is quite likely that the new venture already has designs, if not prototypes, ready to go. We may see the fruits of this joint venture at Bauma.

All in all a good move for both parties, but one that will concern other Italian based producers, who are already suffering from an exceptionally slow domestic market.


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