Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Noble International Ltd., helped by financial and research-and-development support from ArcelorMittal, is moving rapidly into the global automotive industry.

European-based ArcelorMittal, with $105 billion annual sales, is the world’s largest steel maker. Noble, based in Warren, MI, reportedly is the world’s largest producer of laser-welded blanks and a major vendor of roll-formed products.

CEO Tom Saeli says in a Management Briefing Seminar here that Noble’s rapid international expansion reflects growing pressures to produce lighter, safer vehicles; rising commodity prices; the trend toward global vehicle platforms; and growth in emerging markets, especially Asia.

A year ago this month, ArcelorMittal acquired 40% of Noble. It invested another $50 million in the company last March and followed in April with the acquisition of 2.4 million shares to raise its ownership to 49.4%.

Importantly, Saeli says, Noble gets access to ArcelorMittals’ $65 million in annual automotive R&D.

Today, Noble has 23 facilities in 12 countries and has reduced its dependence on North America and Europe, he points out. Before the ArcelorMittal linkup, Noble’s business was split 67% U.S., 19% Canada, 11% Mexico and 3% other nations.

“Today, the U.S.A. is 36%, Europe 45%, Canada 11%, Mexico 6% and the rest 2%,” Saeli says.

Moreover, the U.S. Big Three now account for 47% of Noble’s annual revenues, down from 83%, while PSA Peugeot Citroen, Volkswagen AG, Ford of Europe, General Motors Europe and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd./Renault SA are new customers in Noble’s stable.

Saeli lists increased purchasing leverage, with price reductions in the 10% to 15% range, and capital optimization as other advantages of its global-expansion strategy.