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by Matt Brogan

Ford has confirmed today that it will sell its automatic transmission plant in Blanquefort (near Bordeaux, France) to a French company which already owns and operates a very successful steel forging operation.

The proposed sale, for an undisclosed sum, to HZ Holding France SAS will be examined in consultation with the works council and is also subject to normal regulatory clearance. The sale could be completed as soon as April.
Ford has operated the Bordeaux automatic transmission plant since 1972 and, in that time have produced around 17 million units. A significant downturn in its main market of North America plus technological advances in automatic transmissions called into question the continued viability of making these units in France.

“When we revealed our intention to sell the Bordeaux automatic transmission plant, we firmly stated our intention to secure future production opportunities and safeguard as many jobs as possible at the site,” said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “With today’s announcement, I think it is clear we have met those commitments. For us it was more important that we find a bidder with a strong commitment to keeping as many jobs as possible rather than a bidder willing to pay the highest price. HZ Holding France SAS, has exciting long-term investment and manufacturing plans for the plant.”

Supply of automatic transmissions from the Bordeaux plant to Ford assembly facilities will continue until 2011, ensuring financial stability while new projects are implemented. Additionally, Ford will work closely with HZ Holding in identifying new automotive industry customers for the Bordeaux-made automatic transmissions.

The Getrag-Ford joint venture manual transmission manufacturing facility in Bordeaux is unaffected by the sale of the automatic transmission plant.




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