Viasystems bought by rival firm

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Viasystems, the US-printed circuit board manufacturer which axed over 1,000 jobs in the Borders at the end of the 1990s, has been taken over by a rival company.

It has been acquired by California-based TTM Technologies for $927m, the bulk of which – around $542m – is required to pay off Viasystems’ huge debt mountain.

As a result of the takeover, Viasystems’ common stock has ceased trading on the NASDAC stock market.

Whether the brand will survive the buy-out will be clarified next month when TTM says it will provide “further information on the acquisition”.

The Viasystems file for 2014, lodged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, reveals that its chief executive officer is David Sindelar and that, last year, he had total earnings, inclusive of stocks and bonuses, of $3.634m.

Mr Sindelar is well known to those who fought unsuccessfully to save the former Exacta Circuits factories in Selkirk and Galashiels which closed within 18 months of being acquired by Viasystems in 1997.

Mr Sindelar was Viasystems’ chief finance officer at the time and one of the key architects of the asset-stripping move – still considered the biggest economic disaster to befall the Borders.

However, the TTM acquisition should hold no fears for Mr Sindelar who, according to the file, is entitled to up to $9.1m if his employment is terminated or there is a “change of control”.

Viasystems’ workforce of 14,000 in 2014 was down from the 22,000 it employed eight years earlier when it opened a series of new PCB factories in China and Mexico to take advantage of cheap labour costs.

The company’s zeal for cost-cutting appears to be undiminished.

“With anticipated changes in minimum wage laws in China, we expect our labour costs will increase,” states the file. “We have begun reducing staffing in certain of our Chinese plants.”

The 2015 minimum wage in China varies from £106 a month in Guizhou province to £188 a month in Shanghai.

Graeme McIver, who was a senior shop steward at both Borders plants, commented: “It comes as a no surprise to learn that Viasystems are still treating their workers as expendable.

“The owners of Viasystems were casino capitalists who deliberately and systematically abused and exploited weak employment laws and government grant assistance to facilitate the asset stripping of the Borders plants.

“They have since been exploiting the low regulation, poor health and safety provision and poverty wages of workers in Mexico and China to keep the cash rolling in.

“To me, they are beneath contempt and remind me of those speculators and bankers whose greed brought the global economy to its knees in 2007/08.”