NETHERLANDS: NedCar dismisses takeover report

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 November 2006

NedCar, which produces the European version of the Colt for Mitsubishi Motors Europe (MME) has dismissed a report it was in advanced takeover talks with a consortium of Chinese car makers as an article "based on groundless speculations and incorrect".

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, citing 'well-informed sources', reported that negotiations have been taking place in recent weeks aimed at reaching an agreement in principle which would include retaining staff.

The paper added that the consortium was understood to be considering developing a new car brand aimed at the European market.

Separately, sources have told just-auto that First Auto Works (FAW) is one of the parties.

While not denying that contacts are taking place - by an earlier announced working group set up to find more work for the plant - MME spokesman Max Tuttle said the paper's report was inaccurate and a takeover was not imminent.

"We have several contacts but talks are only in the early stages and there would be no impact on the workforce before 2009," he said.

A statement from NedCar's manager, communications, Liz Tans said: "A project team, headed by Cor Baan, is investigating the opportunities for further utilisation of the production capacity at NedCar.

"With regard to this there are several contacts. The phase in which these contacts are in gives no occasion to expect any serious impact on the employment before 2009. The voluntary leave arrangements offered to the personnel therefore remain necessary and in force."

The statement added that the plant's management and works council both regretted "this incorrect coverage" and any "false expectations" that it may have raised for employees.

NedCar was once a Volvo plant and, in the 1990s, built that company's S40/V40 model line alongside Mitsubishi's Carisma, which shared the Volvo's platform.

It was subsequently reconfigured to built the Mitsubishi Colt and Smart ForfourNedCar, which shared their platform, engines and other components.

Now that Smart has axed the Forfour, NedCar is reducing its workforce by about 1,000 people to match a yearly volume for the Mitsubishi Colt of 70,000 units. The manning level was previously based on 130,000 units.

NedCar is currently offering its workforce voluntary termination and said about 930 employees have so far accepted one of several schemes on offer.

"If the available severance schemes plus the efforts of the Third Party Work project team fail to produce the desired results, this will be followed by restructuring in 2007 so as to achieve a lower cost level," NedCar said.

"This is necessary in order to operate on a break-even basis and [for the plant] to be considered for the successor to the current Colt model."

NedCar jobs safe for a year

Forfour production ends