HomeFeatured NewsIs Assad diversifying into solar power and lithium?

Is Assad diversifying into solar power and lithium?

There are days when, as journalists, we hate to follow the financial statements of certain companies listed on the Tunis stock exchange, so much so that we find nothing but negative information, and so much so that the top managers of these same companies, although listed and obliged to provide information, lack a basic sense of communication.

They are even aggressive when they discover their negative balance sheets in the newspapers, refusing to talk about them, making little or no financial communication or only speaking in front of the cameras of promotional videos. We have approached them and they have dodged the issue, but not before consulting our profile on one of the social media. But never mind!

– A crumbling situation

At the end of the first half of the financial year … 2023, the only document that comes close to the reality of the company on the Financial Market Council (CMF) website, the interim accounts showed positive equity of 27,753,437 dinars, including the loss for the period of -7,189,965 dinars. 

Between June 2023 and June 2022, the battery manufacturer’s revenues fell by more than 5.7 million dinars, both in local sales (-2.569 million dinars) and exports (-3.211 million dinars).

Although the company’s half-yearly operating costs fell by more than 3,442 million dinars, its operating profit remained negative (-2,552 million dinars) and was even lower than the -93,143 million dinars recorded in the first half of 2022. And with financial expenses rising to 4.6 million dinars (compared with 3.6 million dinars in the first half of 2022), the net deficit in June 2023 doubled to a loss of 7.189 million dinars.

At the end of 2022, Kallel’s revenues had increased by more than 5 million dinars, its operating profit was almost one million dinars (970,000 dinars) and had even doubled compared to the 487,000 dinars of 2021. But the company ended the year with a deficit for the second consecutive year and its losses even increased by a few hundred thousand Tunisian dinars (TND).

2021 was no better: the Tunisian accumulator went from a profit of 2.5 million dinars in 2020 to a deficit of 7.738 million dinars in 2021. Since then, no one has been able to explain this downturn, as the company’s last financial communication dates back to 2015, according to the history section of the TSE website.

In the balance sheet for the first half of 2023, which belonged to Wassel Madani before he gave way to Chokri Ben Mabrouk, the management explained the poor results by a series of external factors, ranging from the Russian war to the rise in the price of petroleum products.

– Stock market performance at daisy level

We won’t find out in a financial communication, but in a promotional video. Under its new management, Assad seems to have decided to look to a brighter future by diversifying its product range in line with the technological trend. This may help to restore the company’s image on the stock market, where it was listed on March 23, 2005 at 18.8 dinars and now trades only at … 0.7 dinars after a negative annual performance of 13.1%. According to the TSE, the company has not paid a dividend since 2019!

– And yet there are prospects

Assad’s new prospects lie in solar batteries and lithium. It’s not the company’s CEO who says so, but Wissem Zouari, director of the Bouargoub plant, who says so in a promotional video for Moez Hrizi’s “successful” website. He states without further ado that “we have an ambitious project to develop lithium batteries”. Mehdi Kallel then goes on to explain that the project is about “batteries for electromobility and micro-mobility, with several Tunisian and foreign partners”.

According to a company source who requested anonymity, the batteries are still at the experimental prototype stage, not for vehicles but for Tunisian startups in need of mobility.

And if there is production, it is still in small quantities and small series on a small production line, and in search of certification that would open up exports, which could start in 2025.

We also understand that even if the integration rate is quite high (20 to 40% depending on the product), the cell will be imported.

The company is targeting batteries for photovoltaic storage, electric motorbikes and other light electric vehicles, with Bako Motors already a customer.

What is certain is that the Assad Group is on the move, looking for new prospects and giving new impetus to the parent company and its entire group, which also had a deficit of 8.568 million dinars in 2022 and reduced its losses by more than 4.6 million dinars in that year.


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