The Holden Commodore VFII. © General Motors
The Holden Commodore VFII. © General Motors

Talks taking place to ‘save’ Australia’s car industry

16 February 2016

A Belgian entrepreneur is in talks to buy Australia’s Holden car plant in a move that could win the country’s soon-to-be defunct car industry a last minute reprieve.

Australian newspapers reported that entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, owner of Punch Group, has said he is looking to take over the Holden car factory in northern Adelaide.

Car manufacturing in Australia is due to come to a halt in 2017 as the country’s remaining manufacturers, GM-owned Holden and Toyota, close their factories. Ford is set to close its Melbourne factory in 2016.

The companies announced the closure of their plants soon after former prime minister Tony Abbot said he would withdraw more than AUS$500m in subsidies to the car industry. When Malcom Turnbull succeeded Abbot as prime minister he did not reinstate the payments.  

It is estimated that AUS$30bn has been handed to the automative sector since 1997.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Dumarey is asking the Australian federal government for an undisclosed sum from part of a AUS$900m fund, set up to help automotive supply chain companies to diversify, if he is to purchase the plant.

South Australia’s minister for manufacturing and automotive transformation Kyam Maher was reported as saying there were a number of hurdles to overcome before any deal with Punch Group becomes a reality.

Holden mainly produces cars for Australia’s domestic market. In 2012 it produced around 90,000 cars. The company was bought by GM in 1931.

Australia’s federal government has announced grants of AUS$4.8m to support 10 Australian automotive component manufacturers.

Industry minister Christopher Pyne said the support would help firms diversify into new markets.

The government said recipients included Multislide Industries in South Australia; Orbital Australia in Western Australia and Luna Nameplate Industries in Victoria.

Pyne added that to date the programme has supported 31 diversification projects.

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