Ford Confirms Selling of Blanquefort Transmissions Plant

After the news being made public yesterday, by French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, Ford Motor Co. confirmed its intention to sell its automatic transmission plant in Blanquefort, near Bordeaux. Initially, a German company was said to have bought the plant, but today's announcement links the buy to a French company that already owns and operates a very successful steel forging operation near Metz.

HZ Holding France SAS is the most likely buyer for the plant, for a sum that remains so far undisclosed. Even if the decision has not yet been made, the plant could be in French hands by the end of April. Under the sale plan HZ Holding will invest between over 200 million euros by 2013.

The money are to be used on six new projects, including one in renewable energy. Project partners to HZ Holding will include the German automotive supplier, Johann Hay Automobiltechnik. The plan also includes the safeguard of as many jobs as possible.

"With today's announcement, I think it is clear we have met those commitments. For us it was more important that we find a bidder with a strong commitment to keeping as many jobs as possible rather than a bidder willing to pay the highest price. HZ Holding France SAS, has exciting long-term investment and manufacturing plans for the plant," said in a press release John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.

Supply of automatic transmissions from the Bordeaux plant to Ford assembly facilities will continue until 2011, while Ford will work closely with HZ Holding in identifying new automotive industry customers for the Bordeaux-made automatic transmissions.

The Getrag-Ford joint venture manual transmission manufacturing facility in Bordeaux will not be affected by the sale of the automatic transmission plant. Ford has operated the Bordeaux automatic transmission plant since 1972 and, in that time, around 17 million units have been produced there. The economic crisis forced Ford to question the viability of continuing production in France.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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