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Swiss react positively to Adtranz sale

Rail technology company Adtranz plans to close two plants in Switzerland. DaimlerChrysler

First reactions from Switzerland to the sale of the Adtranz rail technology group to Canada's Bombardier group in a deal worth SFr1.21 billion ($710 million) have been generally positive.

Adtranz, which is owned by DaimlerChrysler and has its headquarters in Germany, announced last year that it was closing two plants in Switzerland, with the loss of 710 jobs.

The sale has still to be approved by the relevant competition authorities.

DaimlerChrysler boss, Jurgen Schrempp, said the sell-off would enable the company to focus on automobile manufacturing. He added he was confident that Adtranz was in safe hands at Bombardier.

Adtranz hit the news in Switzerland last November when it announced it was closing its two Swiss plants at Pratteln near Basel and Oerlikon near Zurich.

Efforts are continuing by employees to save at least one of the plants because they argue that Adtranz Switzerland is one of the strongest performers in the group, producing 10 per cent of total turnover with only five per cent of group staff.

Employees are said to be taking the news of the sale in their stride, with one member of management being quoted as saying: “Things couldn’t get any worse”. However, the sale is being seen as a chance for Adtranz in Switzerland.

The director of economy in canton Basel Country, Erich Straumann, said he was positive about the takeover, although he was not aware of all the details. He said he had a “good feeling” that the planned closure of the Pratteln plant might be reconsidered.

The Swiss Federal Railways, the leading customer of Adtranz Switzerland, last year expressed disappointment at the planned closures, saying they were a heavy loss and would mean the disappearance of technological know-how.

In its reaction to the deal, the Railways says it sees nothing to impede cooperation with Bombardier in outstanding orders for Intercity tilting trains.

“We expect that the trains will be delivered under the conditions that have been worked out,” said spokesman Reto Kormann.

Adtranz, which made heavy losses last year, was established as a joint venture of ABB and Daimler-Benz (now DaimlerChrysler). In early 1999, DaimlerChrysler took over the ABB share of the venture.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR