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German cablemaker finds home in east

GERMAN firm LEONI Autokabel wants to create about 1,500 jobs by opening a new branch that would produce cable sets for the carmaker BMW, in the town of Ilava (eastern Slovakia).
LEONI aspires to create the new jobs within three years, and plans to produce cables exclusively for export, primarily to Germany. Investments into the construction of the plant in Ilava will reach about Sk1 billion (€23.8 million).

GERMAN firm LEONI Autokabel wants to create about 1,500 jobs by opening a new branch that would produce cable sets for the carmaker BMW, in the town of Ilava (eastern Slovakia).

LEONI aspires to create the new jobs within three years, and plans to produce cables exclusively for export, primarily to Germany. Investments into the construction of the plant in Ilava will reach about Sk1 billion (€23.8 million).

LEONI Autokabel already has three factories in Slovakia that employ about 2,500 people. LEONI Cable Slovakia (in Stará Turá) mainly produces mobile phone assemblies, and LEONI Slovakia (Nová Dubnica) produces cord sets, and coaxial cables.

LEONI Autokabel Slowakia is a part of the LEONI Wiring System Division. It was founded in 1993, and is located in Trenčín. About 1,500 employees produce cable harnesses, particularly for Porsche, which is among the major customers of the LEONI AG Wiring Systems Division.

LEONI Autokabel Slowakia stocks a range of first tier suppliers in the commercial vehicle market.

According to Susanne Böll, of the LEONI press office, because of additional contracts, the facilities in Trenčín have reached their limit, and production capacities have to be expanded.

Therefore, LEONI Autokabel Slowakia has decided to build a new plant in the town of Ilava. The plant's ground-braking ceremony took place on September 3rd 2003. The factory is planned to open in 2004, late in the year.

"After the plant opens, about 1,500 employees will produce cable harnesses for our new customer, BMW, and deliver them 'just in sequence' to the BMW plants in the German cities of Munich, Regensburg and Leipzig.

"Some of the products included in the overall scope of BMW orders will be made in Bistrita, Romania. There, LEONI is also currently building a new wiring systems plant, which will be finished this autumn", added Böll.

"The Choice of Ilava [as a] location is a success factor," Böll said. The LEONI Group, which operates more than 60 facilities world-wide, has already proven its skill in picking locations in the past.

"We were early to recognise the benefits of locating [the plant] in eastern European countries, having set up plants in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. For example, we were one of the first German companies to opt for Ukraine by building a wiring systems plant there", she explained.

A reasonable wage structure and the availability of qualified labour were the main impetus. Also, the support provided by the local government had an influence on the choice of location for the plant.

"Ilava is a particularly good location. It's near a highway and has great labour potential. After analysing all the possibilities, we have come back to Ilava", said director of LEONI Autokabel Slowakia Christoph Lühr, to the TASR news wire agency.

According to the mayor of Ilava, Pavol Čiernik, the new factory will enable local people, who want to work, to remain in the area. They will no longer have to commute to the Czech Republic for employment.

He said that about 2,000 people from Ilava and surrounding areas have gone abroad for work. Ilava itself is a tiny town of 6,000, while the region is inhabited by about 62,000.

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