The increasing importance of Big Data and embedded technology/electronics is expected to lead to increased M&A activities in the supplier segment.
- The Belgian automotive sector accounts for 1% of Belgium’s GDP. While production decreased slightly in 2016 (down 2.4% to about 400,000 units), domestic registrations or sales of new vehicles increased 8.1% year-on-year in 2016, and further growth is expected in 2017 (registrations of new passenger cars increased 4% year-on-year in H1 of 2017 according to the Belgian automotive association FEBIAC).
- Besides several major assembly plants, Belgium hosts a large number of export-oriented, high-value components manufacturers that have good business opportunities given the increasing global demand for car electronics and sophisticated technology. That said, the increasing importance of Big Data and embedded technology/electronics, together with the global process in the industry, is expected to lead to more merger and acquisition activities of Belgian automotive suppliers in the mid-term.
- Profit margins in the Belgian automotive sector are generally satisfying and expected to remain stable in 2017. While many businesses hold long-term debts, banks are supportive.
- Payment behaviour in the sector has been good over the past two years, and the number of protracted payments and insolvencies is low. Both payment delays and business failures have decreased since the end of 2016, and we do not expect any deterioration in the coming months.
- We assess the credit risk and business performance of the Belgian automotive sector as “Good”, and our underwriting stance continues to be open for all subsectors.