Deere, Bell Equipment To End Longtime Relationship

In a recent financial filing, South African equipment manufacturer Bell Equipment said it had signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with John Deere to end the decades-old sales and supply agreement between the two companies.

As part of the MOU, I A Bell & Company (Pty) Ltd, a 38.7% shareholder in Bell Equipment, would acquire Deere’s 31.4% shareholding in Bell.

Bell currently distributes a number of Bell-branded, John Deere designed and manufactured products in certain markets in Southern Africa either through its own network or through subdealers. The principal market is South Africa.

Based on changes in the operating environment of both companies, Bell and Deere agreed on the future of these distribution arrangements. Bell will distribute Deere products until January 2023 and will continue to provide aftermarket, technical and product support customers for a further 10 years. Bell will transition from an exclusive to non-exclusive Deere dealer arrangement from March 2021.

Bell said it is currently in discussions with a number of international OEMs with regard to providing what the company called “well suited replacement products” to its customers in Southern Africa. “We are confident,” the company said in a statement, “that Bell’s close relationships with, and local understanding of, its customers, will stand us in good stead with regards to reinvigorating certain lines of product through new product alliances.”

The relationship between the two companies goes back to the 1990s and included a marketing agreement in place from 1998 to 2013 through which Bell provided Deere-branded articulated trucks to the North American marketplace.

Founded in 1954, Bell manufactures articulated trucks, tractor loader backhoes, wheel loaders, dozers, graders and forklifts, as well as ag and forestry machines such as haulage tractors, tri-wheeled loaders and forest harvesting and hauling equipment.

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