DAF managers seek van buyout

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The Independent Online
LEYLAND DAF managers are planning a buyout of the collapsed vans division and could put tentative proposals to the receivers this week.

A team led by the Birmingham plant's managing director, Allan Amey, believes it can save the factory by slimming down operations to concentrate on the domestic market.

The move is increasingly seen as the last hope for the plant, which suffered 600 job losses on Friday when the receiver, Arthur Andersen, cut 1,600 DAF staff nationwide.

Insiders say no potential buyers have come forward, and the plant is excluded from moves backed by the Dutch government to create a new company out of the core truck making operations. The company, New DAF, may well include the DAF truck division in Leyland, Lancashire.

The MBO team has discussed the future of the plant with advisers, the Department of Trade and Industry and Birmingham City Council. But the crucial funding of any buyout has not been arranged. Unless the receivers can be convinced soon that the institutions will finance an MBO, further job losses and even closure cannot be ruled out.

A question mark already hung over the Birmingham plant because of doubts that a joint venture with Renault to produce a new van, the Excel, would go ahead.

An MBO expert at a leading accountants said: 'Buyout proposals cannot be put together overnight, but if managers can demonstrate the viability of the plant, then there is money about to back it. But time is not on their side.'

While DAF's van exports from the UK fell 2,000 last year, domestic sales rose by the same figure to 13,000. The plant has increased its slice of the UK small van market over three consecutive years to 16 per cent. The Royal Mail has confirmed 2,000 van orders and this weekend Birmingham City Council was to ask DAF to tender for 450 vehicles.

Lancashire and Birmingham councils will tomorrow call on local authorities to confirm orders for thousands of trucks and vans.

After a meeting with management and representatives of receivers, union convenor Dick Gould said he was optimistic that part of the Birmingham operation could be salvaged. He thought a management buyout was 'a strong possibility'.

(Photograph omitted)