Rolls-Royce seeks sites for international expansion plans

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The Independent Online

Rolls-Royce is searching for suitable sites for a major expansion of its international manufacturing facilities. The engine maker has already asked eight states in the United States to bid for the new facilities but said yesterday it would also consider locations in other parts of the country and around the world.

A spokesman for the company said the expansion plans remained at a very early stage and that regional development agencies in a number of countries would be asked to pitch for the new facilities.

Rolls-Royce has not made any decisions about the size of the investments it might make, or how many jobs will be created. It also said the new facilities would be used to service all four of its main business activities, in the civil aerospace, defence, marine and energy industries.

The eight states asked to submit bids are Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Ohio and Indiana. The company already employs 8,000 workers in the US and has its North American headquarters at Chantilly in Virginia.

James Guyette, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America, said: "[This is] part of an ongoing evaluation process which is intended to provide the company with options."

Rolls-Royce shares have performed strongly this year, reaching a high of 472p, seven times the 65p low price hit in 2003. Yesterday they closed at 445.5p.

But analysts have warned the company may struggle to continue its successful run amid fears that the aerospace business cycle is moving into a downturn.