Flemish government assesses crisis plan concerning Van Hool

The Flemish government has enlisted an external study agency to analyse a restructuring proposal for the bus manufacturer Van Hool. A significant portion of production is slated to relocate from Flanders to North Macedonia under this plan, threatening hundreds of jobs. The government is expected to determine potential support after a comprehensive assessment of these measures, possibly in the coming week following a meeting of the core cabinet on Friday.

Marc Zwaaneveld, Van Hool's crisis manager, provided the Flemish government with the plans on Thursday evening. Zwaaneveld advocates discontinuing the production of city buses at Van Hool due to its inability to compete in the market. Instead, the focus would shift to manufacturing coaches, with the production hub situated in North Macedonia. Information about the resulting job cuts has not yet been provided to the government and will only be disclosed during a special works council meeting on Monday.





On Friday, top Flemish ministers deliberated on the plan in collaboration with Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV) and Gigarant. Flanders may potentially invest in the company's capital through PMV, preferably in conjunction with a new private partner. Alternatively, an extension of the guarantee on loans totalling 30 million euros via Gigarant is being considered.

No concrete decisions have been made as the officials first want to know whether the company has a realistic future after thoroughly examining the proposed plan. The government will consult with the banks in the upcoming week, after which a decision on a potential support plan may be reached.

With the recent switch to electric city buses, Van Hool has struggled to keep its products at the forefront of transportation. While the manufacturer does make electric buses, it does not specialise in them, resulting in delayed part shipment or expensive batteries from Chinese factories. This makes the buses more expensive than Chinese competitor BYD, which recently secured an order for approximately 92 electric buses from De Lijn.


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