COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—A Middle Eastern businessman with multiple holdings in Sri Lanka is venturing into the tire business, investing $77.5 million in the establishment of a tire factory on the island nation under the auspices of Rigid Tyre Corp. (Pvt.) Ltd.
The new plant, which will use technology licensed from Italy's Marangoni Group, will have capacity for passenger and medium truck radials as well as OTR and two- and three-wheeler vehicle tires. Annual capacity was not disclosed, but the investor expects employment to be in the 3,000 range.
The plant eventually could house production capacity for conveyor belting and/or high-pressure hydraulic hose, the company said.
The venture's investor is Nandana Lokuwithana, chairman of Ceylon Steel Corp. and its member company MA Steel Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. He also serves as chairman of Onyx Group, a diversified holding company in United Arab Emirates.
The investors plan a foundation-stone laying ceremony on Jan. 5 at the plant's site, a 100-acre plot in the BOI Industrial Zone, Wagawatta, Horana, Sri Lanka.
Rigid Tyres said its main business intention is to "capitalize on the European market." As such, all products sold there will be branded "Licensed by Marangoni."
"It is an initiative with far-reaching benefits for the country and certainly can roll out many a profiting mile," Rigid said.
Rovereto, Italy-based Marangoni has been connected to the project since mid-2016 when it dismissed media reports suggesting that it had plans to build a $75 million tire plant in Sri Lanka, insisting instead that its involvement would be "indirect."