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Slovenia still first option for paint shop, Magna boss says

Slovenia still first option for paint shop, Magna boss says
Magna Europe President Günther Apfalter has told Večer in an interview that the Hoče location near Maribor still remains the first choice for the planned paint shop of automotive producer

In the interview run by the Maribor-based daily on Saturday, Apfalter said that the production capacity at the company's plant in Austria's Graz is up to 200,000 cars a year, which is enough to cover orders for the next few years.

The new orders from BMW, Daimler and Jaguar Land Rover meanwhile mean that Magna Steyr needs a new plant, he explained the decision to construct a large paint shop at the outskirts of Slovenia's second largest city.

The company has examined options in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary, and the decision for the Hoče location was influenced by many factors, from the road and railway infrastructure to the proximity of the location to the Graz plant.

Apfalter confirmed that around 400 jobs are planned to be opened in the first phase, while adding that Magna Steyr is very satisfied with the 700 Slovenian workers employed in the Graz plant.

He said that these workers will not be moved to Hoče if they do not want to. Current orders demands an additional 3,000 new jobs in Graz, which means that the number of Slovenian workers employed there could increase to around 1,200.

The construction of the planned facility in Hoče will start immediately after the company gets environmental and building permits from the state.If the opened issued would not get resolved soon, the subsidiary of Canadian automotive giant Magna International will have to consider other options.

A contract with the builder which is expected to construct the plant has not been signed yet, Apfalter said, adding that they wanted a Slovenian builder.

The name of the builder is not known officially, while unofficial information suggest that it could be SGP Pomgrad, which would have to hire an additional 100 workers for the project.

Regarding the fact that the agreement with the state speaks about at least 1,000 jobs, Apfalter said that this is true, but added that the company first has to finalise the first phase.

"Each consequent phase will generate more jobs and thus we will also meet this condition," he told Večer, while declining to speak about numbers. This will depend on orders and the competitiveness of prices, he added.

Regarding the selection of the location, Apfalter said that it was the only possible solution that has been offered considering their requests, adding that the company would certainly get all permits in Austria, including environmental, for the construction of the same plant.

Commenting on certain reservations about the investments expressed in Slovenia, he said that "if the things don't get resolved, the location which is currently an alternative will become number one." While he said that the state should hurry up, he added that Magna Steyr wanted to feel welcome in Slovenia.

Apfalter guarantees that the company is fully committed to environmental responsibility and that it meets all European and Slovenian standards in this field.

Asked whether he finds the concerns of local population and non-governmental organisations irrational, he said that the company completely understands their doubts and that their questions should be answered.

"We promise that we will provide all technical information that we can, but it is also your government who needs to secure answers now," Apfalter concluded./IBNA

Source: The Slovenia Times

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