21 February 1997

Joint deal opens doors for Claas and Caterpillar

By Andy Collings

CLAAS and Caterpillar are set to form joint ventures to market and make combine harvesters and rubber tracked crawler tractors in North America and Europe.

The deal, due to be finalised by the end of March subject to agreement and clearance by regulatory authorities, comprises two main sections. A North American joint venture allows the marketing and the eventual manufacture of the Lexion range of combines. Adapted to meet North American specification, they will be distributed as Caterpillar products alongside the companys Challenger tractor range.

The European joint venture can be seen as a reciprocal arrangement: Cat Challengers (200hp and larger) will be marketed as Claas products throughout Europe via Claas dealers along with the companys range of harvesting equipment. Selected Challenger models, as yet unspecified, will also be made by Claas.

Advantages of the joint venture agreements are clear. Caterpillar will gain a better penetration of the European mainland market – it is no secret that sales of Challengers have been slow outside the UK – and, for Claas, the deal provides an opening into the North American harvesting market.

"We see this planned co-operation with Caterpillar as an important step in the strategic development of our group," says Eckart Kottkamp, chief executive of the Claas group. "It gives us a world renowned partner to compete in the North American market and provides our distribution partners and customers with additional opportunities in the growing high horsepower segment of the tractor market." &#42

Claas and Caterpillar are set to form joint ventures. The future could see green Challengers in Europe and yellow Lexions in the States.