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Fokker rescue talks collapse

The crisis at Dutch aircraft maker Fokker deepened yesterday after Canada's Bombardier pulled out of bid talks, saying that the risks of a takeover were too high, writes Russell Hotten.

The Dutch government is expected to extend Fokker's financial lifeline while talks with other potential buyers continue, but South Korea's Samsung is now seen as the only serious contender.

Bombardier, owner of Belfast's Shorts Brothers, a major supplier to Fokker, was seen as the most likely buyer of Fokker's assets and the collapse of talks is a serious blow to the 7,000-strong workforce.

About 800 jobs at Shorts would also be under threat if Fokker closes, but Bombardier said the Dutch company's huge debts meant a takeover was now out of the question.

Hans Wijers, the Dutch economics minister, said yesterday that the government was likely to provide bridging credit for another two weeks.

Last month, after controlling shareholder Daimler-Benz cut off funds to Fokker, the Dutch government gave Fokker 365 million guilders (pounds 150m) to tide the company over for four weeks. "The next few days will be decisive for the future of Fokker," Mr Wijers said.

Dutch media reported that the Bombardier talks had stalled over the amount of money the Dutch government was being asked to contribute to a rescue. But Bombardier said its decision had nothing to do with support from the Dutch government. "We didn't ask for any support, it wasn't part of our evaluation and the government didn't propose anything," a spokesman said.