Van Hool goes to VDL and Schmitz Cargobull

After the Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool was declared insolvent on Monday, the future of the company has already been clarified: the trustees have accepted the joint bid from Dutch competitor VDL and German trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull.

Image: Van Hool

The two bidders were already considered favourites. However, the Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, together with ABC Companies, Van Hool’s US dealer, had submitted a counter-bid – probably also in order to preserve more jobs in Belgium in the case of Dumarey.

Under VDL and Schmitz Cargobull, only 650 to 950 of the 2,500 employees will be able to keep their jobs. Schmitz Cargobull is interested in the Belgian-based trailer division of Van Hool. And VDL has focussed on the coach business – VDL itself offers (electric) city buses. So things look bad for Van Hool’s city bus division.

However, the prospects would have been poor even without the insolvency and sale, as even the Van Hool management had recently favoured a focus on coaches – and an exit from the loss-making city bus business. The competition and price pressure is too great for city buses, which are already being built in Macedonia and no longer in Belgium. In addition, Van Hool was too late to focus on electrification and initially favoured hydrogen rather than batteries – with the result that batteries then had to be purchased at higher prices because the corresponding framework agreements were not concluded early on.

The trustees decided in favour of the bid from VDL and Schmitz Cargobull as they believe that a new start could be made much faster this way. “They feared that too much time would be lost before the restart with other buyers. As a result, customers and employees would no longer be available to make the restart a success,” writes the Belgian newspaper “De Standaard”, which reported on the Van Hool case early on.

“If the tendering process had to be reopened, we would lose at least six weeks,” said curator Jeroen Pinoy to broadcaster VRT NWS. “Then both production and distribution would come to a complete standstill. That would destroy value and have negative consequences for employment. Customers didn’t want to wait any longer. The order book would quickly become empty.” Pinoy refuted rumours that VDL had issued an ultimatum for a quick deal and that the offer would otherwise have been withdrawn.

Instead, the trustees also feared that specialised staff would have left the company of their own accord during a hangover. “Specialised employees are needed, especially for the special products that Van Hool manufactures – tankers, double-decker buses. These are people in shortage occupations, such as welders. If you leave these people in uncertainty for months, they will look for and find another job,” Pinoy said.

And at least some of them will also be needed in the future: “Schmitz Cargobull wants to continue production in Lier and even build a new production site there. And VDL is also planning to maintain employment in Lier,” Pinoy added., (in Dutch)

1 Comment

about „Van Hool goes to VDL and Schmitz Cargobull“
Roger W Henderson
15.04.2024 um 17:05
Are they planning on coming over to

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