Government steps in to keep Battenfeld going

Lower Austrian government drums up Euro15m support.

In a statement issued yesterday, the regional government of Lower Austria said it will provide support to ensure continuation of the Battenfeld injection moulding machinery business (BKU) in Kottingbrunn.

According to the local government’s head Dr Erwin Pröll, “the state of Lower Austria, together with the banks – lead by the Lower Austria Hypo Bank – has brought together the required credit of €15m. The continuation of the company for the next three months is thereby ensured”.

Pröll, who will be standing for re-election in the elections to be held on 9 March, said that the time gained should suffice to find a potential purchaser for BKU, adding that there are already a number of interested parties.

The regional government said the move means that not only the 472 BKU employees, but also 175 BKU suppliers with 3,000 employees, will now be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Some suppliers may not be quite so enchanted however, as the Austrian newspaper Die Presse noted on its online issue yesterday. It quoted insolvency expert Alexander Klikovits of the Kreditschutzverband (KSV) debt protection agency who said creditors may be forced to accept just 20% of the amounts due to them.

KSV said in an official statement that there are around 1,300 creditors affected and that they will have to submit their claims by 18 March. KSV stated further that BKU company sources have indicated outstanding debts may be as high as €30m.

The Lower Austrian government said in its statement that its liability for the financial support to BKU will be decided at the next parliamentary session on 24 January.

Vice head of the Lower Austrian government, Ernest Gabmann was cited in the newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt yesterday as having said that without support from the Lower Austrian government, BKU would have had to close its gates today.

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