04 May 1998
Caterpillar announces new site for combines
Caterpillar of the US announced a joint venture with German
agricultural maker Claas to make combine harvesters in Nebraska.
The 50:50 joint venture is believed to be costing $100m to set up. It is aimed at meeting about a fifth of the US demand for combines by 2002.
Caterpillar last produced combines in the 1930s, so the move represents a radical departure for the US company. Just 3% of its sales last year of $18.9bn came from agricultural equipment.
The deal has led to speculation that Caterpillar intends eventually to buy Claas, a privately-owned company that is Europes biggest maker of combines. Some observers believe it may fall into the arms of the US company because it lacks the financial muscle to remain independent.
Claas had sales of DM 1.9bn ($1.1bn) last year. It will be providing the know-how of its Lexion combines which will be made in Nebraska. Claas is also linking with the US group in Europe to make a specialised form of “tracked” farm tractor already made by Caterpillar in the US.