Germans vow to invest in shipyard and avoid layoffs

The German investors in Hellenic Shipyards, Greece’s largest, yesterday gave assurances that they will remain as owners and that they will invest 40 million euros in the company within the next two years and increase its capital. Dr Klaus Borgschulte, managing director of parent company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, and Reinhard Kuhlmann, general manager of Hellenic Shipyards, were very careful with hot topics such as employment levels and state military and civilian procurements and they tried to project themselves as willing to cooperate with the government and the employees. That’s a virtual U-turn from their tough and demanding positions of the past. Kuhlmann announced that Hellenic Shipyards will actually post a profit in 2006 for the first time in many years. He and Borgschulte said that rumors of mass layoffs were false. «There will be no layoffs for a year, at least,» Kuhlmann said, adding that the shipyards’ work force will be reduced by 350 people, who will work in subsidiaries. The two managers also said there is a need to retrain the personnel following the implementation of the company’s restructuring plan. The plan calls for the unification of the submarine and surface ship building divisions, the upgrade of the repairs division and the separation of the rolling stock division, which builds trains for state-owned Hellenic Railways. Borgschulte said the rolling stock division’s performance had improved over the last six months and that it had good growth prospects, thus backing down from earlier statements that it would be shut down.