Those who know a vehicle's inner workings may know GKN's components. GKN serves its customers through its four segments: Aerospace, Driveline, Powder Metallurgy and Land Systems. Core products include driveshafts, propshafts, torque management, and chassis components for light vehicles and trucks; airframe and engine structures for aircraft; and axles, wheels, and tractor attachments for agricultural, construction, and other off-highway vehicles. GKN has operations in more than 30 countries, and its customers include most of the top vehicle and aircraft manufacturers around the world, including Boeing, Airbus, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford Group. In 2018, GKN was acquired by British turnaround firm, Melrose, in a hostile takeover. Melrose paid $10.5 billion for the company and is in the process of selling its powder metallurgy division with possible plans to offload its off-highway powertrain unit and wheels business.
Of GKN's four business segments, Driveline and Aerospace are the two largest at around 45% and 30% of total revenue, respectively.
Driveline is a supplier of automotive driveline systems and solutions and has a fairly even spread across GKN's three regions. Aerospace supplies aerostructures, engine products and electrical wiring systems to the global aerospace industry; its biggest customers include Airbus and General Electric, and military comprises 25% of sales. Powder Metallurgy produces metal powder and then creates automotive components though its two subsidiaries, Hoeganaes and GKN Sinter, and Land Systems supplies power management products for the agricultural, construction and industrial equipment.
GKN operates facilities in more than 30 countries. Europe, including the UK, is the largest region by revenue at around half of all sales, while the Americas sales are around 40%; the Asia/Pacific region and Africa comprise the rest. Half of GKN's workforce is located in Europe (including the UK), with around a quarter each in the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region/Africa.
Sales and Marketing
GNK counts among its biggest customers Fiat Chrysler, Airbus, Ford ,VW Group, GM Group, Renault Nissan, United Technologies, General Electric, Boeing, and Toyota Group. Its primary served markets are agriculture, construction, defense, forestry, industry, civil, military, integrated aerostructures, and engine systems.
Note: Growth rates may differ after conversion to US Dollars.
External conditions meant 2015 was a somewhat turbulent year for GKN given how its fortunes are closely tied to its customer markets, and while total sales of £7.2 billion represented 4% growth on prior year, positive growth was not consistent across operating segments. The two biggest segments, Driveline and Aerospace (£3.5 billion and £2.5 billion in total sales, respectively), grew by 3% and 12%, but Powder Metallurgy and Land Systems shrank by 1% and 10% to £0.9 billion and £0.7 billion, respectively. Powder Metallurgy suffered in China and Brazil in particular, although this was to some extent counterbalanced by a solid performance in Europe.
Cash flow from operating activities was flat in 2015, at £940 million
GKN pursues four key strategic objectives, which include strengthening capacity in Mexico, the US and China, and innovating in technology. In the former, the company invested in composite and metallic manufacturing in Mexico, and completed a manufacturing site in Seattle that supports the Boeing 737 MAX assembly line. In the latter, GKN acquired Sheets Manufacturing Inc, an engine inlet lipskin producer.
Adverse market conditions put pressure on the Land Systems segment, and to address falling sales management cut costs; this incurred a re-structuring charge of £11 million.
Aerospace is undergoing a transition as some aircraft programs are approaching end-life, while others are ramping up; 2016 sales are expected to be flat as a result. GKN is looking to capitalise on expected growth in vehicle production in China, North America, Europe and India, and so Driveline and Powder Metallurgy can expect above-market growth.
The company also values developing new technologies, for instance it developed a new air intake in the aerospace sector that combines ice protection and noise reduction for the first time, for which it was shortlisted for the European Clean Sky Initiative award. Additionally, GKN is looking to expand its presence in the 3D printing (additive manufacturing) field, and has received its first orders for 3D printed parts, for military use. GKN's eDrive business, which makes axles for electric vehicles, is small at present but is expected to grow as sales of electric vehicles rise over the coming years.
GKN is fighting off a hostile takeover from Melrose. The company plans to sell off non-core parts of the business, including its aerospace division, which employs 1,600 people. In a further attempt to fend off Melrose, the company agreed to merge its auto parts business -- GKN Driveline -- with US auto-engineer Dana in a £4.4 billion deal. The newly formed company will be UK-listed but US domiciled.
Mergers and Acquisitions
GKN acquired Dutch aerospace firm Fokker Technologies in October 2015, which supplies doors, flaperons, flaps and landing-gear components, among other things, to the construction of the Lockheed Martin F-35, the world's most expensive military aircraft. Fokker also already has an established presence in China, and its acquisition will ramp up GKN's presence in the regional market.
Also acquired was Sheets Manufacturing, the acquisition of which will enable GKN to produce streamlining lipskin products on an industrial scale.
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