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Fokker hopes focus on Malaysian rescue

Fokker's assembly lines face final closure in May, unless administrators running the bankrupt Dutch manufacturer succeed in pulling off a last-ditch rescue plan. Hopes of saving the company centre on talks with a coalition of Malaysian and Dutch investment groups.

The latest report from the Fokker administrators says that Fokker has only four aircraft still to deliver from the batch of cash orders secured in mid-1996.

Of that batch, there are still two Fokker 50 turboprops due for delivery to Ethiopian Airlines in March/April, while the last two of five Fokker 70 regional jets for KLM will follow in April and May. If no rescue has then been put in place, the company, which is employing a skeleton workforce of 459, faces imminent closure.

Some smaller parts of the bankrupt business have recently been sold, including the interiors operation, to Driessen Interior Systems.

The latest hopes for a rescue hinge on apparent interest from the Malaysian Government, which confirms that its Khazanah investment arm is discussing "proposals" for a rescue.

Details of the talks have not been disclosed, but the move is likely to include Dutch interests. The Stork industrial group (which acquired the Fokker Aviation services operation in 1996) and Dutch industrial investment group Begemann are also in discussions.

Delays in securing a deal have added to the costs of resurrecting the business, compounded by the decision of subcontractor Shorts to close the wing-assembly line.

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