Could Wrightbus fall into Chinese hands?
It is rumoured a Chinese company could acquire Wrightbus, according to press reports.
Weichai, a Chinese engineering business, has been tipped as a possible company to save the struggling Ballymena-based manufacturer. It was announced the bus builder was to court potential investors last month, when it issued a statement confirming it had appointed Deloitte to aid it in its discussions with potential investors.
A spokesperson for Wrightbus said the manufacturer is engaging with a number of interested parties, but has nothing more to add at this stage. Deloittes was unable to comment on the situation with Wrightbus.
Founded in 1946, Weichai has over 80,000 employees worldwide. The business ranks 84th among China’s top 500 enterprises. It owns six business segments of powertrain, intelligent logistics, automotive, construction machinery and luxury yacht, as well as finance and after-services. Among the Weichai Group’s companies is Asiastar Bus, which has manufactured coaches for over 60 years.
Wrightbus gained political support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Councillor, Timothy Gaston, and North Antrim TUV politician, Jim Allister. Even the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pledged to support the business.
A statement from Wrightbus about its current situation said: “As Wrightbus continues to expand its global customer base, there is increased complexity to tailor our products to the climate, territory and operating characteristics of our diverse customer base. To strengthen the company’s ability to accelerate its development of these new technologies Deloitte is working with the company to explore the potential of bringing on board an investor. This is to ensure that the skills and talents of our Ballymena workforce continue to deliver cutting-edge transport vehicles to our customers near and far. The company continues to win new business and this is evident in the recent uptake of our zero emission fuel cell vehicles bolstering a strong 2019 order book.”