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Botswana car plant goes cheap

by CAR magazine on 13/09/2001

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The Wheels of Africa vehicle assembly plant in Botswana was auctioned piecemeal in Gaborone on Tuesday for a fraction of its original price.

The Wheels of Africa vehicle assembly plant in Botswana was auctioned piecemeal in Gaborone on Tuesday for a fraction of its original price. The plant, sold for R57,6 million last year, was auctioned in 41 lots for R3,5 million.

“It would have been easier to pull teeth from chickens,” said Auctioneers Botswana’s Graham Phillips as he tried to coax bids from a group of 50 potential buyers that included representatives of Delta and Toyota.

Phillips said everything would be sold without reserve, but was forced to refuse very low bids. No bids were received for the entire plant. The bulk of the plant was bought by US company Workhorse.

“It was a disaster. The prices were all wrong,” liquidator Terry Brick of Deloitte and Touche said. “They (the creditors) have accepted the prices,” he said. The secured creditors of the company will get about 18 per cent of their claims.

The Kimberley Car Company bought the plant for R57,6 million last year, but missed the final payment date last month. The company planned to relocate the plant, which had produced Hyundai and Volvo cars for Wheels of Africa, to Kimberley to establish a new vehicle assembly operation.

But the plan failed when a cheque provided by Turkish investors bounced and the cash could not be raised.