Deal secures Optare’s future as part of Ashok Leyland’s global bus strategy

20 December 2011 #SMMT News

The long-term future of British bus maker, Optare plc, has been secured thanks to a refinancing agreement announced today that will see Indian commercial vehicle manufacturing company, Ashok Leyland, increase its holding in Optare to 75.1%, allowing the company to build upon its position as top five bus manufacturers in the world.  

Ashok Leyland is the flagship company in India of the Hinduja Group and the refinancing and guarantee of support will provide a substantially improved working capital facility for the business – safeguarding the existing contractual and statutory employment and pension rights of all Optare employees.

CEO, Jim Sumner, said “This is great news for Optare’s customers, employees and suppliers by securing stability and the long-term future of the business. The re-banking of Optare represents a critical milestone in the turnaround of the business and allows us to now complete the final phase of the three year plan which commenced in June 2009.”

He added, “In addition, our recent move to a new factory in Sherburn gives us the capacity and modern assembly facilities necessary to capitalise on the additional sales our deeper partnership with Ashok Leyland will undoubtedly deliver.”

John Fickling, Chairman of Optare said, “Given the global economic challenges we all face, this is a game changing deal for Optare. It ensures that we can grow and prosper in an ever changing and demanding market place”.

Vinod Dasari, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland observed, “We see this as an important element in realizing our vision of being among the top five bus manufacturers globally. Through leveraging the synergies of the two companies, we are confident that going forward we will be able to accelerate technology sharing, develop future-ready products and increase our global footprint to fast-track our growth in volumes.”

Dheeraj Hinduja, Chairman of Ashok Leyland said, “We are confident that, together with Optare, we can surge ahead leveraging historic British manufacturing excellence and taking advantage of the large opportunities for growth and development we see based on synergy and integration with the Ashok Leyland bus business.”

Optare is Britain’s leading maker of advanced low-floor integral buses and employs around 500 people across the group, principally at its new assembly facility in Sherburn in Elmet, Yorkshire. The company produces a wide range of fuel efficient buses of its own integral design. In addition Optare has pioneered its ‘EcoDrive’ programme across all of its products which deliver a wide range of low carbon power options, including hybrid, full electric and dual fuel models.

To see where Optare and other commercial vehicle manufacturers operate in the UK, click here.

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