Fokker subsidiaries receive protection from creditors

January 24, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

LONDON -- Seeking time to avert collapse, Fokker N.V., the Dutch aircraft maker, said last night that its main subsidiaries have been granted one month's protection from creditors after the cutoff of financial support from Daimler-Benz A.G., its German benefactor.

The decision appeared to be little more than a stopgap measure after the announcement Monday by Daimler-Benz, which holds a controlling stake in Fokker, that it was effectively abandoning Fokker after years of heavy losses.

Analysts said that Fokker's only realistic strategy now is to find buyers for its aircraft-building and other aerospace activities, and that its ability to attract a buyer would probably hinge on how much financial support the Dutch government is willing to provide.

Ben van Schaik, Fokker's chairman, said at a news conference in Amsterdam last night, "If we can find a partner for the companies for which we filed for protection, these companies can be saved. Alone, these companies cannot compete on the world market."

Aerospace companies like Bombardier of Canada, which makes wings for Fokker planes, and British Aerospace, one of Fok

ker's main rivals in the regional jet market, are likely to take a look at purchasing pieces of Fokker's business, analysts said.

Daimler-Benz's Deutsche Aerospace unit acquired its stake in Fokker in 1993 as part of a strategy of expanding its European aircraft-building capability into the regional jet market -- planes with 50 to 100 seats flown by airlines on short-haul routes.

But with aircraft sales depressed in recent years by a slump in the industry, Fokker, one of the oldest European plane makers, was a substantial drain on Daimler's earnings. In the first half of last year, Fokker lost $400 million.

Analysts said that with British Aerospace, Alenia of Italy and Aerospatiale of France all competing in substantially the same market, a crisis for Fokker was virtually inevitable. Regional jet makers also compete with the smaller aircraft of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing Co. of the United States.

Fokker officials said they want to complete planes now under construction and win advance financing from the Dutch government for orders it had placed. They said they are working with Daimler-Benz to insure that the company could continue providing technical support to airlines using its planes.

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