Final decision on huge Czech Hyundai plant imminent


A final decision is expected to be announced shortly on a huge foreign investment to the Czech Republic. A Czech delegation is on its way back from South Korea, where it has been finalizing details on plans for a major Hyundai assembly plant with an annual capacity of 300,000 cars. The Korean car-maker seems almost certain to choose this country, and several sites in the eastern part of the Czech Republic have been prepared. David Vaughan spoke to auto journalist Lyle Frink about the project and asked him what's at stake.

"What's at stake is a billion dollar - or billion euro - investment and 15,000 jobs."

So this is a pretty massive deal.

"It's a very massive deal. It's been pretty much kept under wraps. The story was broken by Automotive News Europe a couple of months ago. What's interesting is how fast it has developed. Another interesting facet is that I think the Koreans already have decided what they want. They are just now going to negotiate and get the best deal they can on investment incentives before they conclude it."

And the example of Slovakia is well known, where a whole deal was scuppered by rows over the site and failed attempts to buy the land. Is there a danger that this could happen in the Czech Republic as well?

"There's always the potential for a screw-up somewhere, but this time the Koreans were hesitant, or they specifically delayed announcing that the deal was done until the Czech government had secured the entire 200 plus hectares for the site."

So the possible sites are definitely available, and they could start building tomorrow, if necessary?

"Yes, though the ground's a little frozen right now! But yes, there are plans for the Nosovice site [near Ostrava] and the government has over 200 hectares in hand and is now paying off the land-owners in the area."

We're talking about Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic, where there is still relatively high unemployment. This would be a huge boost to the economy there, wouldn't it?

"Yes, it's a huge boost. 3000 jobs would be directly at the factory and an additional 10,000 are expected to be in suppliers around the region."

And when are we going to know for sure?

"The director of Czechinvest said it would be probably by the end of January. I would expect something this week or next week."

So we really will know whether or not the plant is going to be built and at which of the sites prepared.

"Yes. The Koreans are known for wanting everything yesterday!"