Electropoli is a leading European provider of surface treatment products and services. The French company offers a wide range of surface treatments for all types of metals, including chemical coatings, industrial painting, hot dip galvanizing and electrolytic coatings, for customers in the automotive, aerospace, defense and energy industries.
Headquartered in Bron in Metropolitan Lyon in eastern France, Electropoli operates seven manufacturing and service sites in Europe, including three in France and two each in the Czech Republic and Poland. Established in 1954, the company has been owned by the French Impala Group since 2013.
At the end of May, it was acquired by China Synergy Fund and Trail Capital, an independent Paris-based private equity firm. China Synergy Fund is an investment platform co-managed by CICC Capital, the private equity division of China International Capital Corporation (CICC), China’s leading investment bank, and TPG, the number-one global alternative asset firm.
“Because of this strategic acquisition, we will be able to expand into the Chinese market and provide better services to our clients with operations in the country,” CEO Jean Paul Bos describes the benefits of the new ownership structure. “In addition, we shall be able to enhance environmental protection standards in the Chinese surface treatment industry.”
Electropoli employs 1,400 people and has revenues of 100 million EUR. 80% of the company’s customers are automotive groups as well as Tier 2 and 3 suppliers. The remaining 20% are commercial vehicle producers, railway companies, the defense and aerospace industries, and oil and gas companies.
“The parts are supplied by our customers, surface treated by us as required to protect them against corrosion or lend them a specific finish or colour, and then shipped to the customer again,” explains Mr. Bos. “That is why it is important to keep delivery distances as short as possible to minimize transport costs.”
In the automotive segment, Electropoli focuses on body parts, chassis and brakes. “We don’t do engines and gear units,” says Mr. Bos. “Electric vehicles have smaller, different types of engines and no gearboxes anymore. With the growing trend towards e-mobility, this would be a risk for our company. However, with body parts and brakes, we have a relatively safe position.”
Electropoli has customers all over Europe and even supplies individual Mercedes parts on a worldwide basis. The company is constantly developing new, more environment-friendly surface treatment technologies. “Chromium VI will be prohibited in the near future, so we will be working with Chromium III instead,” states Mr. Bos. “In a couple of years, nickel might be forbidden, too. So there will always be alternative chemical formulae that we will have to apply and adapt to different surfaces to achieve optimum results, both in environmental and economic terms.”
Because of this strategic acquisition, we will be able to expand into the Chinese market. Jean Paul BosCEO
While operating as a pan-European company, Electropoli has always regarded the entire world as its market. “National markets or the European automotive industry are not decisive for us,” explains Mr. Bos. “Our products are built into cars that are sold worldwide. There have been regional fluctuations in demand, but at a global level, demand has grown, though only slightly. And the fact that we are not involved in engines is an advantage because of the diesel disaster.”
With its entry into the Chinese market, Electropoli’s self-understanding as a global player will be enhanced further. “We are committed to following our customers to their local manufacturing locations,” Mr. Bos describes the development strategy of the French surface treatment experts. “All major companies, in the automotive sector and other industries, have their own presence in China, and we have the same ambitions. Our new owners will open the doors for us and help us become a true global champion with a strong local presence in China.”
Simultaneously to developing the Chinese market, Electropoli is keeping a close eye on developments in Eastern Europe, where the group already has four manufacturing operations in the Czech Republic and Poland. “Many of our clients have production facilities in Hungary, Romania and Slovenia,” explains Mr. Bos. “We have plans to follow them there. We want to be as close to the customer as possible because of the transports costs and for security reasons. In case one plant should have a problem, another nearby could help out at short notice.”