From the Editors of Ag Equipment Intelligence
Preferred bidders are being lined up to acquire Kukje Machinery Co., the South Korean agricultural equipment manufacturer whose tractors are sold under the Branson name in the U.S. and other markets.
Kukje Machinery is being sold by Dongkuk Steel Group, which owns just over 50% of the company’s stock. Other owners include Korea Development Bank, which has a near 29% holding, and the other financial institutions that became shareholders in a debt-to-equity arrangement made 5 years ago.
A bidding process managed by the South Korean arm of financial services consultancy EY (Ernst & Young) has reportedly reached preferred bidder stage, with agricultural tractor and equipment manufacturer Tong Yang Moolsan (TYM) and its finance partner Truben Investment likely to emerge as the leading candidate to acquire the ag equipment maker.
UPDATE: Branson Tractors' Parent Company Being Sold to TYM
According to Maell Business News Korea, acquiring Kukje Machinery and its Branson line would put TYM ahead of current number two LS Mtron among South Korean agricultural equipment players, and close to Daedong Industrial Co., the manufacturer of Kioti tractors and all-terrain utility vehicles.
All four are active in the U.S., with the top three having operations based in North Carolina: Daedong-USA Inc., manufactures 21-91 horsepower Kioti tractors in Wendell, N.C., and distributes them through more than 300 dealers.
LS Mtron’s subsidiary LS Tractor USA LLC, based in Battleboro, N.C., distributes 24-97 horsepower compact and utility tractors.
Its parent company has a supply agreement with Case IH for the compact models in selected markets, including the U.S.
TYM’s North American activities are based in Wilson, N.C., where it completes assembly and distributes compact and utility tractors ranging from 25-105 horsepower.
Kukje Machinery set up Branson Tractors in Rome, Ga., in 1998. It now distributes the 24-78 horsepower compact and utility tractors through 165 dealers in the U.S. and Canada, with additional warehouse, assembly and distribution bases in Plainview, Texas, and North Plains, Ore.