Lead battery business Monbat has bought a majority share holding of Tunisian lead-calcium battery and recycling firm Nour Batteries for €10.3 million ($12.5 million).
A contract for the purchase of 720,000 shares (60% of all shares) was signed on 12 May following a decision by the Bulgarian-based Monbat’s board of directors.
The deal will take place in two stages: the first is for 23% of the shares; the remaining 37% will be acquired and paid before 31 December, 2021.
Monbat intends to “modernise the production” of Nour Batteries and expand the recycling plant’s capacity.
Starting next year, Nour will produce around one million starter batteries per year, which could be doubled in the future.
The company’s owner Atanas Bobokov said the Nour factory would help Monbat meet demand as the company’s customers “currently order larger quantities than the company can produce”.
Bobokov was released from Bulgarian custody in November on BGN2 million ($1.2 million) bail following allegations he had illegally imported and exported waste lead battery products, reported Sofia news agency Novinite.
Bobokov resigned as the firm’s CEO to “preserve the stability of the company” last June.
Monbat has been interested in expanding into North Africa for several years, and aims to have more than 60% of its market outside of the European Union within five years.
In 2017, Monbat tried to negotiate a deal to buy the Tunisian industrial battery company Assad, but the deal never materialised.
Tunisia has duty-free trade arrangements with 15 African and Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia—one of Monbat’s major markets.
Bobokov said in a statement: “The enterprise that Monbat is about to acquire now is smaller than Assad, yet it is a strategic advantage for the Bulgarian company to set foot in Tunisia.
“We intend to turn Nour into Monbat’s second pillar, so to say, a pillar in Africa.
“Our investment in Tunisia will boost our sales in Saudi Arabia, because we have had to pay a 10% customs duty so far, while the new factory will make our products highly competitive.”
Nour’s previous owner will retain a 40% stake in the enterprise.
In February, Battery maker Monbat Economic Group established Bulgaria’s first accredited lead-acid battery testing laboratory.