Ford to Sell Automatic Transmission Plant in France

Ford Motor Company is selling its automatic transmission plant in Blanquefort, near Bordeaux, France, to a French company named HZ Holding France SAS that owns and operates a steel forging operation near Metz. The automaker said that the proposed sale, for an undisclosed sum, will be examined in consultation with the works council and is also subject to normal regulatory clearance. If all goes well, the sale could be completed by the end of April.

The Bordeaux plant has been manufacturing automatic transmissions since 1972 and, in that time, it has produced around 17 million units. "A significant downturn in the main market of North America plus technological advances in automatic transmissions called into question the continued viability of making these units in France," said Ford in a statement.

Supply of automatic transmissions from the Bordeaux plant to Ford assembly facilities will continue until 2011, while under the sale plan, there will be no change in employment levels with HZ Holding planning to invest between now and 2013 over 200 million Euros in the facility on six new projects, including one in renewable energy.

"When we revealed our intention to sell the Bordeaux automatic transmission plant, we firmly stated our intention to secure future production opportunities and safeguard as many jobs as possible at the site," said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. "With today's announcement, I think it is clear we have met those commitments. For us it was more important that we find a bidder with a strong commitment to keeping as many jobs as possible rather than a bidder willing to pay the highest price. HZ Holding France SAS, has exciting long-term investment and manufacturing plans for the plant."