Siemens Must Find Buyer or Repay Pounds 18m
Electronics giant Siemens yesterday admitted that it could have to repay pounds 18 million in Government aid if it fails to find a buyer for its three-year-old microchip plant in North Tyneside.
The group's UK chief executive, Mr Alan Wood, said that the plant was now in a run-down phase prior to closure and prospects for a successful sale were diminishing.
Talks with a prospective Chinese buyer continue, but Mr Wood insisted that he was "neutral" about the prospects of a sale being agreed.
"We have a clear programme to run it down and we are in that stage now. Staff numbers are down significantly and we are going to sell off the equipment. As time goes on it will clearly be more difficult to reverse that process. I am neither optimistic no r pessimistic but clearly time is becoming critical," he said.
Mr Wood was speaking after he unveiled a 44 per cent improvement in annual profits at the UK operation to pounds 77 million and a five per cent increase in turnover to pounds 2.13 billion, the first time the company has passed the pounds 2 billion mark i n the UK.
The figures were published a week after parent company Siemens AG announced a 25 per cent fall in net income after extraordinary restructuring costs to DM917 million.
Mr Wood said that the last financial year had been extremely significant for Siemens in the UK, with substantial restructuring and the divestment of Siemens Plessey among the highlights.
The group's transformation will continue following the announcement by the German parent company that it is to dispose of its three components businesses, electronic mechanical components, passive components and semiconductors.
Mr Wood said that the group's focus following his appointment as chief executive in place of Mr J rgen Gehrels in April would change in the light of a more difficult trading environment. …