CKD DS break-up imminent
NEXT MONTH is due to see the formal takeover of Czech rolling stock supplier CKD Dopravní systémy by Siemens AG, with the implementation of a strategic plan announced by the German group last September. This led to the signing of a letter of intent last December under which Siemens will buy 61% of the ailing firm. Controlled since May 1999 by Konsolidacní Banka, CKD DS was officially declared bankrupt on January 29.
Alstom had earlier pulled out of the bidding because of the Czech company's growing debts, now estimated at KC8·5bn. The Siemens deal is dependent upon an agreement for the Czech government to write off much of this debt.
KoB approved a credit on February 7 to keep the production lines rolling; 10 Class D12E diesel locos for Vietnam are now expected to be delivered later this year, together with M1 series trainsets for the Praha metro and spare parts for RT8D5M trams in Manila.
According to the Czech Ministry of Trade & Industry, the debt write-off will see CKD DS split into two businesses. KoB will retain ownership of the residual assets through CKD Real Estate, and Siemens will acquire CKD Nova, possibly in partnership with major customers such as Praha Transport Authority. CKD Nova will complete all the current orders, and then concentrate on metro and suburban EMUs and light rail vehicles, with the work force halved to around 800. Some work may be brought in from other Siemens plants.
Another 300 staff may transfer to Skoda Plzen subsidiary Skoda Dopravní technika, which has offered to work with Siemens on the Praha metro order.
- In a related move, the Czech government has approved the sale of CKD Vagonka Studénka (formerly MSV) to Thrall Europa. This was agreed on March 8, and announced in Praha on the following day. Thrall plans to concentrate on wagon manufacture, producing 2000 vehicles in 2001 and rising to twice that by 2003. This would secure jobs for around 1650 of the remaining 2300 staff at Studénka.
However, Thrall was not interested in the passenger coach business which CKD tried to develop at the plant, and this was sold back to CKD as a newly-formed company, CKD Vagonka sro. Thrall has also acquired Rail Project of Poprad in Slovakia, and announced on March 9 that it planned to establish a European headquarters in western Europe.