RUWEL rescue so near and yet so far …

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 20 November 2009



(2009), "RUWEL rescue so near and yet so far …", Circuit World, Vol. 35 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

RUWEL rescue so near and yet so far …

Article Type: Industry news From: Circuit World, Volume 35, Issue 4

The business operations of RUWEL, the PCB producer with the longest tradition in Germany and based in Geldern/Lower Rhine, can be continued by the insolvency administrator until the end of the year. The insolvency administrator Horst Piepenburg had announced this in mid-July, after in May 2009 there had first seemed to be no perspective at all. But whether there will also be a future for the Geldern location beyond the year-end will probably be decided this month already.

After Bernd Zevens, the Kleve entrepreneur and former owner of RUWEL, had submitted an offer to take over the RUWEL plant in Pfullingen as of 1 September 2009, BlueBay now signalled their willingness to continue their involvement in the Geldern location under certain conditions. BlueBay have a worldwide network at their disposal and would possibly be willing, together with an Asian partner, to take on responsibility for approx. 220 jobs in a new company as a future majority shareholder in Geldern. BlueBay have now informed Horst Piepenburg about this in a Letter of Intent. Whether this will in fact happen will ultimately depend on a number of conditions being fulfilled.

One crucial point for the potential investor will be the question of legal certainty in relation to the number and make-up of future employment contracts. The possibly future new owners are demanding on the one hand that the approx. 200 pending actions against “unfair dismissal” be clarified first of all. On the other hand, the history makes it clear that any further involvement in the Geldern location, with unchanged conditions and existing cost structures, cannot be expected and for a potential buyer would also be out of the question.

“You have to realize”, explained Horst Piepenburg, “that there is simply not enough work for 420 employees in Geldern. How should future investors manage to pay them?” On the other hand, the insolvent PCB producer is also not in a position to make redundancy payments, as is without a doubt documented by the status of insolvency. The insolvency administrator is in a position to continue operating the Geldern plant on his own until the end of the year. “But that's the end then”, Piepenburg makes it perfectly clear. In September, RUWEL's major customers traditionally send out invitations to attend the annual price negotiations for the coming year. “If we have not presented an acceptable long-term solution for the Geldern plant by then, we shan't be invited to attend those discussions in the following year. In that case, the order situation would collapse in January at the latest and it would no longer be possible to continue production”, explained the insolvency administrator.

On the other hand, there is an historical chance with the prospective solution – subject to the approval of the cartel authority: a European producer of PCBs for the worldwide automotive industry, with an Asian partner having his own production capacities in his home region, would at long last have the opportunity to assume the role of “global player” for this market segment, as RUWEL customers have wished and demanded for years.

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