The Manitowoc Crane Group and Japan's Kobelco Construction Machinery have signed an agreement which will see Kobelco supply Manitowoc with a range of lattice boom crawler cranes under 136 tonnes (150 tons) capacity. The Manitowoc branded cranes will be sold and supported through the company’s existing North American dealer network.
Manitowoc said that lattice boom cranes supplied by Kobelco will be clearly differentiated from Kobelco’s own lattice booms and that Kobelco will continue to market and distribute its own full lattice boom line, ranging from 50 to 250 tonnes, through its current distributor network in the Americas.
“We are very excited about our alliance with Kobleco,” said Manitowoc president Glen Tellock. “The agreement between our two companies also serves as a base for future opportunities.”
Kobelco president, Takashi Ishida added: “I am excited about these two highly respected industry players joining forces. Kobelco is pleased to supply our crawler cranes under 150 tons on an OEM basis to Manitowoc, the most reliable partner we could ever find in our industry. I feel strongly that both companies share the same approach – focusing on customers with care and bringing the market reliable products which have a high standard of quality and safety.”
Manitowoc is yet to issue model designations for the new cranes, which will be available by the second quarter of 2004.
This move completes the bottom end of Manitowocs crawler crane range and follows a similar deal between Terex and IHI for the supply of smaller crawler cranes. The key difference though is that in the Kobleco/ Manitowoc situation the two companies crawler crane ranges overlap and the two companies have been long term competitors until now.
Industry rumours, have hinted that Kobelco parent, Kobe steel might be interested in finding a buyer for all or part of its crane business following last years disposal of a large stake in its hydraulic excavator business to CNH (Case New Holland).
The Kobelco crane line would certainly fit well with Manitowoc's product range, in addition to the products covered by this agreement, Kobelco's range of mini city cranes would be highly appreciated by the Manitowoc/Grove dealer network.
The timing though is probably not right for another acquisition at Manitowoc, so could this be the first step towards a more substantial relationship?.
In the meantime Kobelco continues to develop its range of larger crawler cranes with the launch earlier this year of the CKE 1350 and 400 ton CKE 4000.
Kobelco recently told Vertikal that sales in Europe for its range of crawler cranes were running ahead of plan with good prospects building for 2004.
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