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On paper, the forecast is for no growth

GERMAN industrial group Voith AG expects no growth in overall orders in China this year, citing weaker demand for paper-making machines, its chief said.

Paper makers in China are placing fewer equipment orders as the nation exports less packaging and board products, Hubert Lienhard, president and CEO of the family-owned company, said.

He said paper equipment orders dropped 50 percent for Voith globally in the first five months of the fiscal year, which started on October 1.

"But our accumulated order intake during October-February is still higher than a year earlier," Lienhard said. This is due to its hydroelectric power equipment unit, which is benefiting from strong demand for carbon-free power generation.

Voith's hydro unit has won orders worth more 500 million euros (US$633 million) in the current fiscal year, including an order worth 120 million euros to supply generators and turbines to a hydropower plant on China's Jinsha River.

Voith's orders from China in the past fiscal year totaled 810 million euros, a slight growth year-on-year. Lienhard said that the domestic paper market was "fundamentally good" as China consumed far less paper per head than developed nations, indicating huge growth potential. Last week, Voith launched a paper complex in Kunshan, near Shanghai, to integrate manufacturing.

Voith has a turbo division which produces industrial machines and drive systems, and a unit offering cleaning and maintenance services.

It has 24 operating units in China, with more than 2,500 employees.


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