OCTOBER 11 2012 21:57h
ZAGREB, Oct 11 (Hina) - The U.S. National Railway Equipment Company (NREC), as a long-standing and one of the most important foreign partners of Croatia's Gredelj rolling stock factory, is interested in continuing cooperation and new deals as well as in buying shares in Gredelj's locomotives division but not the whole company, a NREC executive said in Zagreb on Thursday.
Board chairman Steven Beal told reporters the U.S. company was sorry that Gredelj, which he described as a good company, was in trouble, voicing confidence that all would end well.
He was speaking to the press after meeting with Gredelj's bankruptcy trustee Pero Hrkac, who said that based on existing contracts with NREC for the reconstruction of 20 locomotive frames worth US$ 20 million, at least 300 Gredelj workers had something to do until the end of 2013.
Hrkac said NREC made the offer to buy stock in Gredelj's locomotives division six years ago, which Beal confirmed, with both saying the time for talks had come regardless of creditors' decisions.
Gredelj owes creditors more than HRK 800 million, most of whom are its employees. All of them, more than 1,400, have been served with notices for mid-November.
Even if NREC does buy the locomotives division, there will only be jobs for some 300-400 people, Hrkac said, adding that it was difficult to say who would remain after the notices expired.
A great deal depends on creditors' decisions and if they don't want Gredelj's "fragmentation", NREC won't be able to go on with the deal, so the course of the bankruptcy depends on them too, Hrkac said.
He said his task was to examine all debts and claims as well as appraise the total assets, including know-how, before a bankruptcy hearing scheduled for December 12.
Hrkac voiced hope that Gredelj and its long-standing partners Koncar and Croatian Railways would land deals at upcoming tenders, saying this would be important for production to continue but added that with the bankruptcy, a new stage had begun for Gredelj.
Beal was confident of Gredelj's future, saying NREC had not considered another partner in the wider region because it liked Gredelj's skills and that it was willing to wait for the outcome of the bankruptcy.
Beal said NREC sold locomotives in four countries and that it wanted to continue to cooperate with Gredelj.
(EUR 1 = HRK 7.4)