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The European Commission Checks For Illegal Subsidies The Romania-Ford Privatization Deal

07 Feb 2008 - 00:00

The European Commission is expected to rule on whether Romania granted subsidies to the car-maker Ford, as part of the sell of Automobile Craiova to the American company.

The European Commission is expected to rule on whether Romania granted subsidies to the car-maker Ford, as part of the sell of Automobile Craiova to the American company.

“The Commission will rule on the contract clauses, except those dealing with the regional state subsidies,” governmental sources told Mediafax news agency.

The members of the privatization commission are due to meet in a few days to finalize the deal, which was due to happen on January 30. The English language version of the privatization contract was signed on September 12, 2007, at the International Auto Fair in Frankfurt, while the Romanian version was signed two days later in Craiova, Romania.

But in October 2007 the European Commission launched an investigation into the privatization deal, regarding alleged state subsidies granted to Ford, as part of its buying deal of Automobile Craiova. The Commission asked Romania to suspend any illegal subsidies till the investigation would be completed.

The head of the Romanian authority in charge with privatization of state assets, or AVAS, Teodor Atanasiu recently stated that the Commission might object to some clauses in the privatization contract and ask for their removal or change.

Romania had asked – via the AVAS – that Ford would continue to operate for at least four years and reach by then 200,000 units per year, and also keep the current number of employees.

The Commission said would check if these conditions did not alter the sell price, which would equate to granting Ford state subsidies.

According to the privatization deal, Ford took over 72.4% of Automobile Craiova share capital, for 57 million euros, and agreed to invest 675 million euros in modernizing the company and hiring more work force.

Ford is also due to pay AVAS 28.5 million euros if it fails to comply with contract provisions and closes down Automobile Craiova prior to the four-year term. Ford may also not sell the Automobile Craiova shares without prior consent from AVAS.

The contract also states that within three months from its completion, AVAS will take over the shares of the minority shareholders at Automobile Craiova and sell Ford.

The plans are for the company output to reach 300,000 units per year in the fourth year of production, and the number of employees to grow from 3,900 people now, to 7,000 people in 2011.



• Translated by Anca Păduraru


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