Belfast Telegraph

Montupet's £589m 'sale bid' as share trading suspended

By John Mulgrew

French manufacturing giant Montupet - which employs hundreds of staff at a major factory outside Belfast - could be sold, according to reports.

Canadian car parts manufacturer Linamar is said to be in the middle of talks to buy Montupet in a deal which could value the firm at €800m (£589m), according to the Reuters news agency.

Montupet - which produces cylinder heads for General Motors, Ford, as well as Peugeot and Citroen at its Dunmurry plant - was not able to comment, but shares were suspended from trading in Paris yesterday, at the firm's request.

It employs almost 600 workers here at the former Delorean factory. It's not clear what a possible deal could mean for its Northern Ireland base.

Business appears to be booming for the manufacturer here, after it landed a £140m contract for its Dunmurry plant. It's expected to be worth around £140m, over the life of the contract - which is thought to be six years.

Earlier this year, it also announced it was investing £14m in new equipment, and will produce around 450,000 car cylinder heads each year for the customer in Eastern Europe.

The factory here specialises in the manufacture of aluminium vehicle engine components for car firms across the globe.

And its profits are up, with its Belfast business posting a rise to £15.6m last year as recovery in the European market appeared to step up a gear.

And while turnover fell, pre-tax profit climbed by £1.4m to £15.6m in the year ending December 31, 2014 at Montupet (UK) Ltd in Dunmurry.

Employment at its Dunmurry base was also up slightly to 585.

But it is likely if a deal were to go ahead, the base here would be safe, according to economist John Simpson.

"The story is, if we have a successful firm, very often a sign of that success is someone is interested in buying it," he said.

"It has been a quiet success story and has been doing enormous business.

"I would say the Belfast plant would be fairly safe - it's successful.

"But what would a new owner do? The only danger is if they wanted to split the work to another location, elsewhere.

"The fact someone wants to buy them is a strong starting point and is encouraging."

Montupet delivers its products into engine plants based in the UK, France, Turkey, Romania, South Africa and China.

Belfast Telegraph