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Citing a weaker market and persistent problems at their plant in Merida, Mexico, Leoni AG reported significant organizational changes that it deemed necessary to stabilize the business and prepare it for its future.

A March 18 press release said that the company will no longer maintain its prior stated financial projections for sales of 5.2 billion for 2019. It also plans a headcount reduction of up to 2,000 "indirect" employees worldwide, meaning those not working production, such as "white collar" staff. Those cuts include "500... in high-wage countries, particularly in indirect functions." Other cited personnel-related measures include a group-wide hiring freeze and a freeze on raises for non-tariff employees and managers.

The largest single problem was related to the company’s plant that opened two years ago in Merida. Part of the Wiring Systems Division (WSD), the site has experienced ramp-up problems that persisted "to an unexpected extent" the first two months of 2019, the release said. There were high personnel and freight costs that impact division earnings by about 50 million. Other WSD plants in Hermosillo and Durango did not achieve "anticipated performance improvements," but the Merida plant was the source of the biggest loss.

In the Feb. 7 press release, Leoni AG CEO Aldo Kamper said that he and CFO Karl Gadesmann would actively engage in the operations of WSD. "We are immediately implementing a stricter cost discipline at the company," he said, with the focus being to stabilize the company, "with a particular focus on Mexico." A dedicated team of experts is on site to further this goal. The problems, it said, extend beyond Mexico, as the market, especially in China, remains challenging, as some OEMs have cut back on expected orders for the coming months.

In the March 18 release, Kamper said that the situation had worsened, and that "developments… have made it clear that we must act even faster and more decisively to bring Leoni back on track." Personnel changes included the resignation of Gadesmann, whose duties Kamper assumed on an interim basis. Martin Stüttem will assume the responsibilities of WSD COO. The division’s current CFO will be leaving his function and the head of operations has already left. Staffing changes at Merida are also part of the changes.

Kamper said in the release that Leoni has "a clear roadmap" to address its problems. He observed that it was important for Leoni to develop into a systems provider and that its products and services to be aligned with viable and profitable markets as well as technologies involving a high degree of integration. Leoni is using outside experts to help assess "the most important project ramp ups."

"Leoni will focus more on cash generation as well as profitability and intends to restrict organic growth in its Wiring System Division to the level of market growth," the release said. The corporate structure will be changed "into a financial holding company that is lean and geared to functions relevant to the capital market with two divisions that operate entrepreneurially and are managed on a stand-alone basis. ... The divisions will take on full direct cost responsibility for their own businesses."

The release also said that a range of initiatives, part of the company’s VALUE 21 program, is expected to have an impact. "As of 2022, (it) is expected to deliver full-run rate structural savings of around EUR 500 million annually compared with 2018." Savings will be offset some by factors such as wage cost increases and price reductions. Restructuring costs are likely to amount to about EUR 120 million, half of it related to headcount, most of which will incur in the 2019 and 2020 financial years."

Wuhu Jiahong New Material Co., Ltd., (Wuhu Jiahong), a Chinese cable manufacturer, announced that it will be a supplier of self-regulating heat trace cable to Garinger, a major U.S. industrial supply company.

A press release said that Wuhu Jiahong will supply 20,000 meters of self-regulating heat trace cables and 10,000 meters of constant wattage heating cables to Grainger on a yearly basis. These cables will be used for residential and commercial buildings, mainly for pipe freeze protection, in-pipe heat tracing system, electric floor heating system, and roof and gutter de-icing system.

The self-regulating heat trace cables can also be used for other sites, such as offshore oil platforms, marine ship, and fire pipelines, the release said. It noted that Wuhu Jiahong is the lone Chinese company to offer self-regulating heating cables. It is building a 60,000 sq-m-factory in Wuhu, scheduled to open in 2020, that “will be equipped with fully automated testing equipment and is expected to multiply the existing production scale by five times.” Wuhu Jiahong CEO Steven Xu said that the company’s new factory will allow the business “to shift its production line to a new frontier, making it highly digitized and more connected ... (and) provide the company a serious competitive edge over its other competitors in the coming years.”

Founded in 1993, Wuhu Jiahong’s R&D staff includes 20 industry experts, and its cables are made to strict European and North American safety standards, the releasse said. It competes with companies such as Raychem, Emerson, Technitrace, Thermon and Eltherm.

The MAREA transatlantic subsea cable, the result of a joint effort between Facebook and Microsoft, achieved a record data transfer speed of 26.2 Tbps on a pair of its fiber optic cables during an experiment.

A press release said that the experiment yielded a 20% increase in the theoretical maximum as it was previously thought that the maximum transfer rate per fiber pair was 20 Tbps. In 2016, Facebook and Microsoft joined forces to build and deploy the highest-capacity undersea cable in history, dubbed the MAREA cable. The cable spans from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain, and had a design capacity of 160 Tbps, with each of the line’s eight fiber optic pairs capable of 20 Tbps.

A recent experiment using 16 QAM modulation saw the transatlantic cable achieve a data transfer rate of 26.2 Tbps on one of the fiber pairs, the release said. The MAREA cable, which was designed to help meet increasing demand for high-speed connections to the cloud, was able to reach these transfer rates with no physical modifications to the line. "This is significant because it suggests that other undersea lines may be able to achieve speed upgrades without having to spend hundreds of millions on laying new cable," it said.

The release noted that average MAREA cable transfer rates are now "only" 9.5 Tbps, so the record speeds are still in the experimental stage.

International Wire Group Holdings, Inc. (IWG)—which per its website is the largest bare copper wire and copper wire products manufacturer in the U.S., with operations in Europe—announced that it has agreed to be acquired by affiliates of Atlas Holdings LLC (Atlas) for $10.70 a share.

A press release said that IWG’s board of directors unanimously approved the transaction, and recommended that stock holders approve the deal. Atlas owns and operates 18 manufacturing and distribution businesses, with more than 17,000 employees and 150 facilities worldwide. Those sectors include automotive products and services, building materials, capital equipment, chemicals, construction, energy, equipment fabrication, industrial distribution, metals and metal fabrication, packaging and paper products.

The transaction, the release said, is also subject to approvals. If the deal goes forward, it would be expected to close early in the second quarter of 2019..

IWG, based in Camden, New York, with its subsidiaries, manufacture and market wire products that include bare and tin-plated copper wire, engineered wire products and high performance conductors for other insulated wire manufacturers and OEMs. It also has facilities in France, Italy and Poland.

Per its webpage, IWG—formed in 1995 through the combination of Wirekraft Industries and Omega Wire, joined that year by Ristance Corporation and Electro Components De Mexico—saw considerable growth in the following years. It expanded in 1996 with the addition of Dekko Wire Technologies amd Camden Wire in 1997, Spargo Wire and Italtrecce in 1998, Forissier in 1999, PD High Performance Conductors in 2006, Hamilton Products in 2008, Global Wire (Wyre Wynd, Negev, Montgomery Wire) in 2008 and Ffhoenix Cuivre in 2011.

NEC has won a contract from Okinawa Cellular Telephone Company to supply an optical submarine cable system connecting Okinawa Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan to be in operation in April 2020. 

A press release said that NEC will provide the optical submarine cable system as a turnkey solution. The cable will be manufactured by NEC’s subsidiary OCC Corporation, which it noted is the only company in Japan that can make optical submarine cables capable of withstanding the water pressure from 8,000 m deep seas.

The cable system will be connected to Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, and Hioki City, Kagoshima Prefecture, with a total length of approximately 760 km and at a maximum depth of approximately 1,200 m. The system will employ the latest optical wavelength multiplex transmission method, with maximum design transmission capacity of 80 Tbps.

NEC, as a system integrator, will provides all aspects of submarine cable operations, including the optical transmission terminal stations, optical submarine repeaters, optical submarine cables, ocean surveys and route designs, installation of equipment and cable, and training and delivery testing.



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