Industrial tandem VDL-Schmitz in pole position to make a fresh start with Van Hool


April 3, 2024
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The West Flemish Guido Dumarey and the duo VDL-Schmitz Cargobull have each offered around 200 million euros to take over parts of the bankrupt Van Hool. VDL-Schmitz has the best cards, especially now that Dumarey would save fewer jobs than originally said.

Two parties remain at the negotiating table in the final stretch for the restart of the ailing bus builder Van Hool. The West Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, who wants to take over a number of Van Hool parts and is mainly aiming to maintain employment in Belgium, and the industrial tandem VDL-Schmitz Cargobull, who, with combined forces, hopes to acquire both the bus division and the industrial division. to get.

VDL-Schmitz has the best cards in its hands, is the assessment of several sources that De Tijd spoke to. The two large groups have experience in the sector, which means they enjoy economies of scale and synergy compared to Dumarey. Moreover, their vision is closest to that of Van Hool crisis manager Marc Zwaaneveld. In his reorganization plan, 1,100 jobs would be cut in Flanders, Van Hool would divest the city bus branch and shift the production of coaches entirely to the factory in North Macedonia.

Fewer jobs saved

A strength of Dumarey’s plan was initially that he only wanted to cut around 600 jobs in Flanders. According to several sources, he has adjusted that plan in recent days and would now come closer to Zwaaneveld’s plan in terms of job retention. Insiders called his original plan unrealistic, because wage costs in Flanders are much higher than those in North Macedonia. According to our information, the contamination of the production site in Lier is also complicating Dumarey’s takeover bid.

The fact that the number of jobs to be saved is close for both parties makes the millions they offer even more decisive. VDL-Schmitz and Dumarey have revised and increased their initial offer. The renewed offer from both parties would be around 200 million euros. The question is whether that is sufficient for the trustees and the banks, who are the largest creditors and participate in the decision-making process.

Third party

A third party that emerged in extremis last week was the Dutch metal group Vlastuin. The company decided not to make a higher bid on Tuesday, which means it is no longer in the running for Zwaaneveld’s restart plans.

However, Vlastuin is still interested in Van Hool, especially in the industrial vehicles branch, says manager Gerrit van Vlastuin. ‘We are an ideal candidate for that branch: we are approximately the same size and have the same product range. But we did not receive the information necessary to make a better offer.’ The fact that Vlastuin only focuses on one branch is a disadvantage compared to Dumarey and VDL-Schmitz, who want to take over several industries and thus save many more jobs.

Bought time

Normally, Van Hool would file for bankruptcy this week, but the company is buying time: on Tuesday it said it needed an extra week to ensure an optimal restart. As a result, Zwaaneveld can tailor the restart even more to the eventual acquirer. Then there is a ready-made plan as soon as the trustees take their place after the bankruptcy has been declared.

As soon as there is a bankruptcy, Vlastuin will try to talk to the curator to still get something, it sounds. According to Van Vlastuin, the week’s postponement is to his disadvantage: the longer the curators have to wait their turn, the more shape the restart plan tailored to VDL-Schmitz will take.

There was another interested party for the industrial vehicles, De Tijd learned, but they were not given a voice in the negotiations and were never able to make a bid. Just like Vlastuin, it is a much smaller player than VDL and Schmitz, who only wanted small parts of Van Hool.

The essence

  • Dutch bus builder VDL and German industrial vehicle manufacturer Schmitz-Cargobull have the best chance of winning the bidding battle for parts from bankrupt Van Hool.
  • They are competing against West Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, who, like them, has offered around 200 million euros.
  • Not only is their plan closely aligned with the vision outlined by Van Hool crisis manager Marc Zwaaneveld, Dumarey would also save fewer jobs than previously promised.
  • The Dutch metal group Vlastuin still hopes to participate in the bidding war when the file is transferred to the curators after Van Hool’s bankruptcy.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Industrial tandem VDLSchmitz pole position fresh start Van Hool


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