Wednesday 25 February 2015

City of London waits for Torotrak

The next three months are likely to prove interesting at transmission specialist Torotrak plc.
Chief executive officer Jeremy Deering is due to step down from his post on 31 May 2015 by which time it may become obvious if his position is being filled.

Last October, Steve Hughes took over as chief operating officer having moved from the position of engineering director at JCB, the on- and off-highway construction and agricultural vehicle maker.

Hughes has enjoyed a stellar rise is job titles since he started at engine and transmission consultancy Ricardo plc in 1999.

After four yeas at Ricardo, Hughes moved to Romax Technology where he remained for only one year before becoming engineering manager at transmission specialist Antonov plc. Those with a good memory will recall that on 27 November 2006 Antonov Plc announced a deal for its TX6 automatic transmission with Zhejiang Automobile Gearbox Co. of China. Chairman of Antonov Plc at the time was Christopher Ross. The TX6 was one claimed to be one of the best and cheapest automatic transmission but there is no evidence it entered volume production to prove out the claims.

Antonov experienced a troubled and disjointed life before finally disappearing. Hughes spent but 17 months at the company before taking his place in a more firmly established and privately-owned company JCB with its emphasis on engine and transmission manufacture as well as the world-renowned founding activity of on- and off-highway vehicle manufacture. Significantly perhaps, JCB uses continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in its Fastrac vehicles.

Last November, in announcing his forthcoming departure, Deering pointed to the appointment of Nick Barter as chairman, and the fact that he had established and executed “the first phase of the company’s new strategy for growth.”

Shareholders in the City of London are waiting to hear how the “second phase of the company’s new strategy for growth” will be executed and by whom.

At the time, Deering could point to a cash balance of £10.1 million but that will not last for ever, as shareholders wait to hear what, if anything will happen with the regard to the license with Allison Transmission in the US, prospective business with V-Charge and the Flybrid kinetic energy recovery system development and exploitation.

Some may see it as an unusual time for a chief executive (Deering joined in 2006) to leave Torotrak, having seemingly set the company up on a good footing, and ready to start generating both income and dividend.


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