Navistar CEO says company's big divestitures behind it

Wed Sep 3, 2014 5:46pm EDT
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By James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) - Navistar International Corp (NAV.N: Quote), the U.S. commercial truck maker that was forced to sell a number of businesses in recent years, has wrapped up the biggest divestitures related to that turnaround, its top executive said on Wednesday.

The company's top priority now, Chief Executive Officer Troy Clarke told Reuters, is regaining market share lost as it struggled to recover from a disastrous bet it made on a costly proprietary smog-reduction system. The emissions-related debacle sent Navistar's warranty expenses skyrocketing even as sales tumbled.

In the interview with Reuters, Clarke confirmed that Navistar has talked in recent months with representatives from Weichai Holdings [SDONGX.UL], one of the world's largest makers of diesel engines and vehicle transmissions.

But he said executives from the two companies had met to "just kind of bat around ideas between us about the kinds of things we could do (together)" and said that Navistar was not in talks to sell any of its business to the Chinese company.

"Any discussions that we’ve had with them most people would consider within the normal course of commercial business between a supplier and a user of technology," Clarke said.

According to regulatory filings, Navistar in recent months has sold off its E-Z Pack unit, which made bodies for garbage truck, as well as its Continental Mixer unit, which made concrete mixers, for prices the company characterized as "not material."

Clarke said those two transactions were "basically a couple million dollar deals" that were in keeping with Navistar's commitment, as it tried to preserve liquidity in the aftermath of the emissions crisis, to "fix, close or sell" any businesses that were consuming cash instead of generating it.

He said that "the big pieces of that (business-shedding effort) have transpired." That cost-saving and cash-generating push has included several plant closures and the sale of the company's Monaco Coach motorhome manufacturing unit.   Continued...

Exterior of Navistar office is seen in Lisle, Illinois, October 4, 2012.    REUTERS/Jim Young