An Australian-based private consortium is in talks to take over Holden’s Elizabeth plant and continue making cars beyond 2017.
The consortium’s managing director, Ashley Finn, said he and a group of other investors were speaking with General Motors about buying the plant, News.com reports. The talks also involved the possibility of getting the rights to the Holden brand and its intellectual property. Holden Corporate affairs executive director, George Svigos, said the company would not sell its name and that it is “completely committed to the Holden brand and intends to sell Holden cars for many years to come”.
Fenn said the consortium is willing to work with other automakers to save the thousands of jobs that will be lost when the plant shuts down in 2017. He also said that state and federal governments, as well as the workers union, had been briefed on the plan. Fenn and his partners were ready to offer up $750 million to save the plant.
Australian Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade Minister, Tom Kenyon, told News.com that the State Government was in talks with Fenn and his partners and treating their offer seriously.
“They’re doing work, talking seriously to GM and, if they’re successful down the track, then that would be a good result for South Australia,” Kenyon said. “They’re not to be dismissed. Their goal is to manufacture vehicles in SA (South Australia).”
Fenn said he and his partners began working on a sustainable business model for manufacturing cars in Australia six months ago, when Ford first announced it would end its Australian manufacturing operations.
“We really go into industries and companies and do turn arounds. What we’ve been able to do is collect some of Australia’s best thinkers in this field,” said Fenn. “We’ve also been talking with financiers and capital partners. Our ultimate intent is to continue to manufacture cars in South Australia.”
Fenn said he and his partners are confident that the global car industry will grow and that an Australian based company focusing on both domestic sales and exports could be profitable. He also said it was possible for them to develop a completely new model if an established automotive manufacturer doesn’t jump on board.
“We don’t know whether we’re buying just a plant, whether we’re buying a plant with the platform and the name or it’s a walk-in-walk-out-type scenario on the business,” Fenn said.
Kenyon said he would work alongside the consortium to help them move forward with their bid.
“GM is taking them seriously and I wouldn’t want to be so skeptical that I missed an opportunity. I’m happy to work with them to try and progress it,” he said.