A major inward investment in the North East has been announced with the acquisition of GT Group by the international technology leader Knorr-Bremse Group, creating a global centre of excellence for commercial vehicle emission systems in Peterlee.
Munich-based Knorr-Bremse AG, a family owned company, is the world’s leading manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles, with sales totalling almost 6 billion Euro in 2015.
In 30 countries, some 25,000 employees develop, manufacture, and service braking, entrance, control, and energy supply systems, HVAC and driver assistance systems, as well as powertrain and transmission control solutions. As a technology leader, for more than 110 years now, the company has been making a decisive contribution to greater safety by road and rail through its products. Every day, more than one billion people around the world put their trust in systems made by Knorr-Bremse. Knorr-Bremse employs in the UK some 1,000 people at seven facilities.
Knorr-Bremse’s global operations will be complemented by GT Group’s advanced environmental engineering, in the field of emission control. GT Group produces, amongst others, exhaust gas control systems for on- and off-highway vehicles, construction equipment and industrial and marine applications for global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). These systems positively contribute to diesel engine manufacturers’ emission strategies and are compliant with international emission legislation.
“The strategic fit of GT Group to Knorr-Bremse and the strong position of our combined businesses will enable us to meet the needs of our worldwide customers in the engine air management business even more comprehensively,” explains Dr. Peter Laier, Member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG, responsible for the Commercial Vehicle Systems Division.
“We access in-depth know-how in new technologies as GT’s mechatronic exhaust valves complement Knorr-Bremse’s existing product portfolio in Asia. Therefore we are planning a close engineering collaboration especially between GT Emissions Systems and our subsidiaries in Japan and China. Thanks to the proven track record regarding product quality and high customer satisfaction, we can grow with GT Group in new regions, too. We will be able to join forces and leverage synergies fast and strengthen our market position in Europe and North America.”
The transaction was undertaken for an undisclosed sum, taking into consideration the company’s position as debt-free organisation with a forecasted order book of several hundred million GBP.
Chairman Geoff Turnbull is retiring from the business to pursue other interests, most notably his growing racehorse breeding enterprise at Elwick Stud.
Knorr-Bremse Group will also support the growth of GT Group’s other international business units, which cover a diverse range of engineering activities including specialist valves and couplings for the safe transfer of LNG and other hazardous liquids, bespoke adaptations for road tankers and large industrial vehicles and seals and composites used in the automotive sector. More than 90% of GT Group’s products and services are exported to in excess of 60 countries.
GT Group was founded more than 30 years ago by Geoff Turnbull and currently employs in excess of 250 people, many of which have spent their entire careers with the business. In addition to its globally-respected production facilities and suite of products and services, it also undertakes extensive research and development into new technologies to maintain its position in global markets.
GT Group’s advisors on the transaction were Duncan Lamb from Grant Thornton along with Ian Gilthorpe from Square One Law.
Geoff Turnbull said: “Knorr-Bremse is at the pinnacle of engineering around the world and the perfect custodian for GT Group and the extensive expertise and technologies we have developed. The support it will provide to GT Group’s established and experienced management team will maintain our trajectory of growth and maximise on new opportunities across international markets.”
Geoff added: “I am exceptionally proud of what we have achieved at GT Group over the last three decades proving that advanced manufacturing can thrive in the North East, creating sustainable employment and ground-breaking technology that is exported around the world. With the expertise of our workforce and the support of its new owners, I am confident I am leaving the business in very safe hands.”