While production grinds to a halt at insolvent mobile phone maker BenQ Mobile, negotiations to find a buyer continue with potential investors, one of them an undisclosed U.S.-German group of individuals with IT and telecommunications backgrounds.
“The German-American group is one of several groups interested in BenQ,” a spokeswoman for insolvency administrator Martin Prager said Monday. “There is a sense of urgency with the negotiations because everyone realizes that the longer the plants remain idle, the more difficult it will be to start them up again.”
On Jan. 1, a Munich court officially opened insolvency proceedings against BenQ Mobile after the mobile phone maker failed to meet an end-of-the-year deadline to find a buyer.
The offer submitted by the group of U.S. and German investors is the focus of a special meeting on Monday at the Ministry of Economics in the state government of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) in Dusseldorf. Attending the meeting, in addition to ministry officials and the investors, are officials from the Bavarian state Ministry of Economics, Siemens executives, BenQ Mobile workers’ council representatives and Prager, in addition to the investor group.
NRW state government officials want to know whether a “sustainable solution” can be found for the BenQ Mobile production facilities in Kamp-Lintfort and Bocholt, the ministry said in a statement.
The Bavarian ministry said it, too, is keen to find a way to rescue the company’s plant in Munich.
Whether the offer made by the U.S.-German group will find supporters in the German state governments and Siemens remains to be seen.
The group of investors is seeking state-backed credit lines of 100 million euros (US$130 million) and compensation for employing the 800 BenQ Mobile employees who have been transferred to a temporary organization funded by the Federal Employment Agency and Siemens, according to the online news service of the German news magazine Spiegel, quoting sources close to the talks.
The group is also seeking rights to the brand names, which are held by Taiwan’s BenQ, Spiegel said.
One of the members in the U.S.-German investment group is Hansjorg Beha, a technology investor and former IT director at Daimler-Benz, which has since merged to become DaimlerChrysler, according to the online news report.
Prager’s spokeswoman referred to the Spiegel report as “well researched.”
Siemens agreed to sell the plants to Taiwan’s BenQ in June 2005, due to disappointing world sales of its mobile phones and high product costs.
But in August 2006, the new owner announced plans to cease investment in the German sites last year after concluding they were uneconomic. The move triggered a public outcry in Germany, which has yet to subside.
-John Blau, IDG News Service (Dusseldorf Bureau)
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.