BELGIUM: No viable business plan yet for Genk: Ford

By Simon Warburton | 5 December 2014

Genk to be hit by 4,300 jobs losses as Ford ends production

Genk to be hit by 4,300 jobs losses as Ford ends production

Ford insists "no viable" business plan has yet been submitted to it that could continue limited operations at its Genk plant in Belgium slated for closure in less than two weeks.

Punch Metals says it has submitted a proposal to the Flanders government, in whose Limburg region the Genk plant sits, which could see up to 200 stamping jobs saved at the factory, but Ford remains sceptical of ideas put forward so far.

Ford is not commenting whether or not Punch is the bidder involved with the 200 jobs, but instead confirms it has held talks with "third parties" with a view to taking over part of the factory near the German border.

"While any next steps on the redevelopment of the Ford Genk site will be communicated by the Flanders Government, Ford and other stakeholders have been in discussions in past months with third-parties that have shown an interest in limited parts of the existing Ford Genk operation," Ford said in an emailed statement to just-auto.

"While Ford welcomes this interest, no viable business plan has been presented to Ford to date that would ensure a competitive and sustainable longer-term business in the view of all stakeholders. We have nothing further to add at this time."

The Flanders government did not return repeated calls, but the Federal administration in Brussels told just-auto it had powers on a "fiscal and social" level to help what it termed "disrupted zones."

"On a Federal level, we do have tools like fiscality and social power to influence it," a spokesman for vice Prime Minister, Kris Peeters, told just-auto from Belgium. "We have fiscal regimes that are favourable to what we call disrupted zones. Genk and Limburg have been recognised as a disrupted zone.

"Labour cost is being reduced and the Federal government has specifically for this zone around the city of Genk, elaborated a substantial incentive.

"Labour cost means cost to the employer and part of this is imposed by the government. It is taxes we want to reduce, to eliminate the labour cost handicap."

The Genk plant will close on 18 December, with around 4,300 staff being made redundant.