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Iranian automobile company plans assembly unit in Oman

Muscat: Oman has made a request for Iran Khodro Industrial Group (IKCO) to establish a production site in the Sultanate, said IKCO's chief executive officer and president Hashem Yekeezare after a meeting with the Yahya bin Said bin Abdullah Al Jabri, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (Sezad).

At the meeting, Iran Khodro Industrial Group's chief executive officer referred to the historic relations between Iran and Oman adding that the site can provide Iran Khodro with an easy access to markets deep in eastern and northern regions of Africa. He also expressed hope that the site could be established as soon as possible with the financial support of Oman's Development Fund.

Yekkezare emphasised that Oman project begins with the establishment of a production line which will develop further into a production site after a while. He referred to the industrial strategy of Iran Khodro developed by Iran's Ministry of Industries and Mines saying: "Based on the strategy, the number of our products would reach to three million vehicles for national and international markets."

On his part, Al Jabri praised the high technologies of Iran Khodro saying the commercial relations between Iran and Oman need to expand further like their political ties.

Al Jabri pointed out that Oman's free trade zone of Duqm enjoys a high capacity for exporting cars to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and eastern Asia. "IKCO's products facilitate our access to Asian markets. On the other hand, Dqum enjoys some appropriate grounds for car production," he said.

Iran Khodro Deputy for Export and International Affairs, Saeed Tafazzoli, also held talks with Al Jabri. During the talks, Tafazzoli referred to the last joint economic meeting between Iran and Oman in December saying: "During the meeting, we concluded to expand our projects in Oman."

"Several months ago, the heads of Oman's Development and Investment Fund visited Iran to discuss the possibility of establishment a joint venture to produce IKCO vehicles in Oman," he said.

Tafazzoli also noted that IKCO would provide the site with engineering services and spare parts. According to him, the site establishment would be financed by Oman's government and Development Fund. The site is expected to produce 15,000 vehicles each year.

Source: Times of Oman, 12 October 2015

South Korea to build auto spare parts project in Oman, and more top stories

A South Korean multinational firm plans to build an automobile spare parts manufacturing facility in Sohar in partnership with a local firm

Source: Times of Oman, 16 June 2015

Iranian auto firm IKCO plans manufacturing plant in Oman

Muscat: Carmaker, Iran Khodro Industrial Group (IKCO) is considering setting up a production plant in Oman, targeting a market which stretches into Africa.

According to Iranian media reports, Oman made the proposal for the plant during IKCO CEO, Hashem Yekke-Zare's meeting with Hassan Ahmed al Nabhani, chief executive officer, Oman Investment Fund in Tehran.

"If the plan proves to be economically viable and necessary investment is made, Iran Khodro would like to establish a production site in Oman and supply regional markets," the reports quoted Yekke-Zare as saying.

The plan is for semi-knocked-down (SKD) production of 20,000 cars a year, with 5,000 units intended for Oman and the remaining 15,000 for neighbouring markets in Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and elsewhere.

Iran Khodro would provide all engineering services and technology and is looking for financing by Oman. Ali Alami, deputy head for exports, IKCO, said the plan which needs a US$100mn investment would also help generate jobs in Oman. Automotive industry is the second most active in Iran after oil and gas.

The country has developed its domestic car industry over five decades. The company has been producing French branded cars, with the Samand sedan having a ubiquitous presence not only on the streets in Iran but also in Iraq, Syria and Azerbaijan.

State-owned Oman Investment Fund recently bought 40 per cent stake in Italian thermoplastic parts supplier Sigit SpA. The move was part of efforts to speed up the process of setting up an auto parts manufacturing industry in the sultanate.

Source: Muscat Daily, 27 May 2015

Oman Fund picks up stake in Italian auto firm

Muscat: The state-owned Oman Investment Fund (OIF) has acquired a 40 per cent stake in prominent Italian auto parts maker Sigit SpA in what experts say is a precursor to the potential establishment of an auto manufacturing industry in the Sultanate. Sigit has built a reputation in the automotive industry as a supplier of customised thermoplastic and rubber components to well-known car makers and original equipment manufacturers around the world. Customers include General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Renault.

Established in 1966, the privately owned firm currently operates a network of nine plants, five of which are based in Italy, with one each in Morocco, Serbia, Poland and Russia. Sales topped 72.5 million euros in 2014.

As a shareholder in this reputed Italian auto parts supplier, Oman Investment Fund - a sovereign wealth fund - has effectively positioned itself as a prime mover in the development of an auto industry in the Sultanate, say experts.

The Fund is already a 30 per cent equity partner in Karwa Auto Motors, a landmark Omani-Qatari venture which is establishing the Gulf's first ever bus assembly plant in Mudhaibi in Oman's North Al Sharqiyah Governorate, with an investment of around $200 million. Mowasalat, Qatari national transport company, is a 70 per cent shareholder in the project. The plant will be designed to assemble around 2,000 buses annually for distribution across the Gulf, Middle East and North African regions.

According to industry analysts, OIF's part ownership of Sigit SpA is expected to open the way for investments in an array of auto parts manufacturing facilities to be set up in the Sultanate, with the output targeted at automakers globally. Over time, this fledging industry is anticipated to expand and diversify, and attract in its wake investments in car manufacturing.

A combination of strategic geopolitical location, investment-friendly free zones and industrial parks, and excellent logistics infrastructure, makes Oman ideally placed to lure such investments, they point out.

Also underscoring the Sultanate's appeal as a potential destination for investment in auto manufacturing is its burgeoning petrochemicals industry, which can be suitably configured to supply the raw materials necessary for the production of auto parts, it is noted.

With the acquisition of a stake in Sigit SpA, Oman Investment Fund now boasts a well-diversified portfolio of investments across a number of production and service sectors. The Fund recently announced plans to set up 'Alila Salalah', a luxury resort development in Mirbat in Dhofar Governorate.

The Fund is also a 40 per cent equity partner in Strategic & Precious Metals Processing (SPMP), which is developing an Antimony Metals Roasting and Tri-Oxide Manufacturing Plant in Sohar Freezone with an investment of around $65 million. Established by Royal Decree, Oman Investment Fund is fully funded by Oman's Ministry of Finance.

Source: Times of Oman, 19 April 2015

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