Media Releases

Reunert enters Australian market
Monday, 21 June 2004


JSE listed electronics and electrical engineering group, Reunert Ltd has entered the Australian market after purchasing the Australian company Heinemann Electric Pty Ltd for R25 million. The change of ownership is effective 1 July 2004. The company, with an estimated turnover of R80 million, will be incorporated into the operation of Circuit Breaker Industries Ltd (CBI).

Heinemann Electric is one of the well-known names in the electrical industry in Australia. Its main operation is based in Melbourne and the company has six sales offices throughout the country. The products of the company are used primarily in building construction, mining and industry in general.

Reunert chief executive Gerrit Pretorius says this acquisition will further strengthen Reunert’s electrical engineering division. This division, which contributes about 27% of the group’s profit, consists of telecommunications cable manufacturer ATC, power cable manufacturer African Cables and CBI.

“Over the past few years CBI has grown its export markets, whilst broadening its product base locally. Exports are 25% of turnover. Sales in Europe and the USA have almost doubled the past year despite a stronger rand,” Pretorius said. “We are optimistic that this foothold in Australia will further increase our international sales.”

Heinemann Electric’s business comprises:

- Importation, manufacture and distribution of electrical transformers and switchgear
- Design and manufacture of electrical switchboards
- Supply of accessories to electrical contractors

The company was established in Australia in 1959 by the late Art Jorgensen, ten years after starting the same business Heinemann Electric (now CBI) in South Africa.

Helmuth Fischer, managing director of CBI, says: “Both companies enjoyed a good relationship over decades. Key managers have known us for a long time and they are looking forward to the co-operation with CBI. Until recently, Heinemann Electric even manufactured a circuit breaker of South African design. In addition, other products, such as earth leakage protection units for the mining industry, were sold by CBI to Heinemann Electric on an ongoing basis”.

CBI will use Heinemann Electric as a platform to penetrate the Australian market. Says Mr Fischer: “There are many similarities between South Africa and Australia, such as language, the mining industry and the same climatic conditions to name but a few. Our research indicates that there are many applications for CBI’s products in Australia. After all they have been used successfully in South Africa in similar applications for decades.”

One of CBI’s executives, Richard Ross, has been appointed as general manager of Heinemann Electric.


For more information contact
Carina de Klerk
Reunert Ltd
Tel: 011 517 9000
Mobile: 083 631 5743

Helmuth Fischer
Tel: 011 928 2000

Background on CBI

Circuit Breaker Industries (CBI) is wholly-owned by JSE listed company Reunert Limited. CBI is the market leader in the manufacture and supply of low-voltage switchgear for electrical installation protection and earth leakage protection and a world leader in the field of hydraulic-magnetic circuit breaker and electronic earth leakage technology. CBI offers a wide range of metering solutions, including prepayment meters. The company entered the field of surge and lightning protection after acquiring L&T Surge in 2001. CBI has exclusive distribution rights for Mitsubishi motor control gear and factory automation equipment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Export sales account for 22% of the manufactured products. The target is to increase international sales to 25% of production in the 2004 financial year. CBI has registered its trademarks in several countries where business prospects are pursued. More than 90% of sales of manufactured products originate from technology developed and owned by CBI. Brand names include Hy-Mag, Ecolec, Samite and Fuchs.

The head office and component manufacturing operations are based at Johannesburg and service branches in Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. CBI sales offices in Europe and the United States complement these operations. The company has three assembly plants at Qwa Qwa in the Free State. An additional plant will be opened in Lesotho in the near future. CBI employs some 1 380 people.