DTI meets with EC over Lancer tactics

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The Independent Online
THE Department of Trade and Industry is in intensive talks in Brussels with European Commission officials over the German role in the collapse of Lancer Boss, the forklift truck maker. Sir David Madel, MP for south-west Bedfordshire, which includes the group's Leighton Buzzard factories, said there could well be a case for a formal complaint.

Meanwhile, confusion over the future of the group intensified. Jungheinrich, the Hamburg-based forklift maker, held an extraordinary meeting to approve a takeover of Steinbock Boss, the Bavarian subsidiary of Lancer, and said it expected to clinch the deal by Friday.

However, Allan Griffiths of Grant Thornton, receiver of the British end, said he was still in talks with groups interested in buying the German and UK operations together and that he would talk to Jungheinrich.

He had made it clear he would prefer to sell the operations jointly, as they have a close supply relationship. Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw, the chairman, called the receiver into the British group on Friday, following the placement of Steinbock into administration. He said the British factories could not operate on their own, and accused Jungheinrich and Bavarian banks of using strong-arm tactics in an attempt to force him to sell Steinbock to the Hamburg group.

Peter Flesher, a Grant Thornton partner, met Jungheinrich executives last night. Mr Griffiths said he was trying to find out whether the German banks would be able to force Steinbock into Jungheinrich's arms.

Kurt Schenk, managing director of Jungheinrich GB, said his group would still be interested in buying Lancer Boss as a whole. He said Jungheinrich's aim in bidding for Steinbock alone was to bring a quick solution 'to avoid any uncertainty over the future of the Moosburg factory and its employees'.