Van Hool applies for creditor protection

The Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool has applied for creditor protection at the Commercial Court of Mechelen. It wants to ensure that operations can continue for the time being to give negotiations with banks and potential takeover candidates another chance. (UPDATE BELOW)

Image: Van Hool

It had already become apparent in recent weeks that things were not going well for the bus manufacturer. In mid-March, it was announced that the management wanted to discontinue the production and sale of city buses altogether (including those with electric drives), as the company no longer saw any chance of being competitive in the increasingly electric city bus segment due to its own cost structure and management mistakes in the past.

The creditor protection proceedings are no longer about electric city buses but primarily about financing for the reorganisation plan. The management intends to present this by the end of March.

However, Belgian media have already leaked what is likely to happen: The plan envisages a strategic focus on luxury coaches, as Van Hool sees less competition here and thus wants to achieve better prices. However, these vehicles will no longer be manufactured in Belgium (only trailer production will remain there) but at the existing plant in North Macedonia. Until now, city buses have been manufactured there. If their production is discontinued, capacity will be freed up there – and the luxury coaches could be produced much more cheaply there than in Belgium.

Update 09 April 2024

Just weeks after the application for creditor protection, Van Hool is officially bankrupt. The company itself has announced this. Nevertheless, the signs currently indicate that there is a future for at least part of Van Hool, as Dutch bus manufacturer VDL and the German trailer specialist Schmitz Cargobull are reportedly set to take over – the duo is interested in Van Hool’s respective divisions. It is rumoured that 650 to 950 jobs could be saved.

What this means for the future of electric city buses at Van Hool is unclear due to the lack of a final deal. VDL offers electric city buses, so the Dutch company is primarily interested in Van Hool’s coaches and its customer base in Belgium. That could mean that Van Hool’s electric city buses have no future – but as mentioned, this has not yet been confirmed.

Until last week, the Dutch company Vlastuin and the Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey were also reportedly still in the running to take over – Dumarey, in particular, wanted to retain more jobs in Belgium than VDL and Schmitz Cargobull. According to local media reports, the entrepreneur submitted another, improved offer on Tuesday, 9 April. Dumarey is apparently supported by ABC Companies, Van Hool’s US distributor.

Specifically, ABC Companies wants to take over 40 per cent, Dumarey 60 per cent. The US company is allegedly interested in the 40 per cent previously held by the family – which ABC reportedly does not want to let pass into the hands of VDL. Dumarey tells a different story: “We are bidding together – they 40 per cent, we 60 per cent – for the bus division of both America and Macedonia. In Belgium, we are interested in the service department, the research & development department, (after)sales and the organisation needed to run all those activities”.,, (in French), (update)


about „Van Hool applies for creditor protection“
John Carroll
26.03.2024 um 19:56
Lost most of their Scottish customers when They stopped using Volvo chassis & engines The Scots switched to Jonkheere , Caetano & Volvo bus And never returned vanHool
Gail Barry
29.03.2024 um 15:47
Pity they didn't close when my bus company was looking for new vehicles, they're designed very badly, batteries in the floor so passengers have to click onto platforms, inaccessible for disabled
Tony Clayton
01.04.2024 um 10:10
I don't think the Macedonian product was as a well built as the Belgian version and I don't think the T9 was as good as the T8. In the 1990's Van Hool's strength was its build quality but also its flexibility in offering different layouts for specialised coaches. This plus the fact that you could buy the vehicles on DAF, VOLVO, SCANIA or as a full integral.
G . V . D
01.04.2024 um 16:44
Het grootste schandaal van deze Belgische regering is chineese bussen te kopen die ook in nederland gekocht zijn en technisch slecht zijn en niet bij Van Hool schande

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