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Nokia shuts last German cell phone plant; Balda sells German ops

January 18, 2008

2 Min Read
Nokia shuts last German cell phone plant; Balda sells German ops

Cellular phone production in Western Europe is on its final legs. Two weeks before Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia announced it would shut its operation in Bochum, Germany, cell phone parts’ injection molder and contract manufacturer Balda (Bad Oeynhausen, Germany) sold its German molding and moldmaking operations, both in Oeynhausen, as well as its molding facility in Veszprem, Hungary, to KS Plastic Solutions GmbH. An unknown and newly formed business, German papers report that KS will soon be acquired by foreign investors. Balda maintained its small medical molding business in Germany.

Nokia announced on January 15 it would close its 2300-employee facility in Bochum and transfer much of the work done there to a new Nokia facility in Romania, where it says labor costs are significantly lower. The announcement raised a storm of protest among German officials who claimed the Finnish firm should either reconsider or be forced to repay the subsidies it was given (for related story, look here).

Mobile phone production in Western Europe is almost entirely gone, and Nokia’s Bochum facility is the last such production in Germany. In 2006, BenQ Mobile, the former cell phone business of Siemens, filed for bankruptcy in Germany, with about 3000 losing their jobs, and last summer Motorola shut its manufacturing facilities in Flensburg, Germany. Sony Ericsson maintains a facility in France and Nokia maintains one in Salo, Finland.

Meanwhile, Balda announced January 10 that it had sold its European mobile phone and moldmaking operations on Dec. 31, 2007. The processor reported late last year that the operation was for sale (see initial report). Balda has been active over the last years opening facilities and forming joint ventures in Asia and Brazil, and has seen an increasing part of its business future in molding and assembly of touch screens. Balda Solutions Europa, the mobile phone operations on that continent, includes about 500 employees in Germany and another 150 in Hungary, plus 250 contract employees. Also in 2007, Perlos (Espoo, Finland) closed its last two cell phone molding and assembly facilities in Finland and laid off about 1100 workers. Perlos has since been acquired by Taiwanese optoelectronics supplier Lite-On.—[email protected]

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