AKRON-Goodyear has closed its tire plant in Thessaloniki, Greece, putting approximately 350 workers there out of jobs. The move is part of Goodyear's global business strategy to move production away from high-cost locations to those with lower manufacturing costs, according to company Chairman and CEO Samir Gibara.
``The Greek plant is amongst the smallest of our plants and does not lend itself to significant economies of scale,'' he added.
The plant, which opened in 1967, had a daily capacity of 3,200 passenger, light truck, medium truck/bus and farm tires.
It was the sole remaining tire factory in Greece following the 1991 closure of Pirelli Group's plant in Patras.
Semperit cust cause uproar
TRAISKIRCHEN, Austria-Continental A.G.'s planned production and employment cutbacks at its Semperit Reifen A.G. subsidiary have turned into a political hot potato in Austria, with calls for hearings and a boycott of Conti-brand products.
Conti responded swiftly and bluntly, saying a boycott would only hurt Traiskirchen's future as a manufacturing site.
Conti's warning came in response to a public call by Semperit's labor union and Austria's chamber of commerce for a consumer boycott of Continental products to protest the halving of Semperit's passenger tire output. The cutback threatens 400 jobs at the plant this year, and has been interpreted by labor representatives as a prelude to closure.
The head of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party has called for a government investigation into the matter, accusing Conti of steering Semperit toward insolvency in order to avoid plant-closing-related social costs, estimated at up to $350 million.
Conti refuted the charges in its statement and said it continues to entertain purchase offers for the factory. The company also denied that the production cutback at Traiskirchen of 2 million tires a year would be transferred to Barum Continental in the Czech Republic, where labor costs are much lower.
The production being scaled back at Traiskirchen is of premium tires, Conti said, whereas capacity expansions at Barum and elsewhere are for ``budget brand'' tires.
Separately, Conti said it is entertaining offers from at least two tire companies to purchase Semperit's marginally profitable tire plant in Dublin, Ireland.
Local media reports have identified the interested parties as Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
Conti cut from stock index
FRANKFURT-Continental A.G. is losing its place in the prestigious German DAX stock exchange index of 30 leading public companies-similar to the Dow Jones 100-but company management is appealing to shareholders to look at the company's performance and liquidity in evaluating its worth.
Conti will become part of the second-tier M-DAX (70 middle- to large-size companies) starting Sept. 24, where it will be considered one of the 10 strongest members, alongside companies like automaker Porsche A.G.
Loss of membership in DAX 30 has in the past led to loss of liquidity for other firms, since many investors buy and sell DAX 30 company stocks as a package, analysts said.
Conti said it will continue efforts to maintain and strengthen the level of investor confidence already established. Its shares, though down 15 percent from their 1996 high of about $18.25, are still up 15-percent from the beginning of the year.
Yunnan Tire building plant
NEW YORK-Yunnan Tire Co., a passenger and light truck tire manufacturer in China's Yunnan Province, is building an 800,000-sq.-ft. radial passenger tire plant with the assistance of New York-based Success International Inc.
Success, which is acting as a general contractor for Yunnan Tire, assisted with the plant's layout, equipment, technology and design, said Director of Operations Gerry Anderson.
The new radial plant is near Yunnan Tire's existing bias-ply tire plant. It is expected to begin production next April and have an annual capacity of 2 million units.
Mr. Anderson would not indicate the amount being invested in the new plant but said it will employ about 250 workers.