Komatsu CEO: no immediate plan to withdraw from Russia

FILE PHOTO: A Komatsu representative cleans a D65PXi bulldozer at the Komatsu booth at CONEXPO-CON/AGG convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas

TOKYO (Reuters) - Komatsu Ltd, the world's second-largest construction machinery maker after Caterpillar Inc, has no immediate plan to withdraw from its Russian operations, it said on Monday, but did not rule out exiting the country in the future.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, Komatsu, which also competes with Sany Heavy Industry and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd, halted shipments to Russia as well as local production but still offers maintenance services for its machinery already in the country.

Komatsu has a manufacturing plant in Yaroslavl, Russia.

"At the moment, like we said in April, we are not considering withdrawal. But various developments could take place as we go forward," Komatsu Chief Executive Hiroyuki Ogawa told reporters in an online interview.

"There may come a time when we will need to decide whether or not to withdraw (from Russia). But that's not something we are considering at the moment."

Russia and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) accounted for 7% of Komatsu's heavy machinery sales in the year to end-March 2022.

Komatsu in October posted a 75% jump in net profit for the first half of the current business year thanks to strong heavy machinery demand and a softer yen, and raised its full-year net profit forecast by 32% to a record 298 billion yen ($2.21 billion).

Ogawa warned, however, that global demand will likely slow in the next business year due to higher interest rates, inflation and slower economic growth.

"I don't necessarily think demand in the next business year will be good when compared with this year's," Ogawa said.

He also said Komatsu has no plan to pull out of its ammunition business, which he said accounted for less than 1% of total revenue, although it has practically withdrawn from armoured vehicle operations.

"As for our ammunition business...We are conducting the operation as our way of contributing to national defence, and we will keep on doing it," Ogawa said.

($1 = 134.9800 yen)

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)