Fleet News

Ex-Ford chief takes on LDV challenge

FORMER Ford of Europe executive Martin Leach has been put at the helm of Birmingham-based van manufacturer LDV after its takeover by a Russian automotive group.

Production at LDV is set to be increased under plans unveiled by its new Russian owners, GAZ Group, to produce new lines of vehicles. The company was bought by American equity consortium Sun Capital Partners in December 2005 but this week was sold to GAZ Group for an undisclosed sum.

The group is Russian’s second-largest automotive company and the seventh largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world. Plans have already been revealed to boost production at LDV’s Birmingham plant by adding new product lines. It also plans to enter new markets ‘in the EU and elsewhere’.

LDV’s chief executive has been announced as Steve Young, former head of automotive practice at global management consultants AT Kearney.

A statement added: ‘By further expanding its distribution channels in new markets, and acquiring new technologies, GAZ will be able to realise its overall strategic aim – to become a leading player in the global market for light commercial vehicles.’

Leach, a former president and chief operating officer at Ford of Europe, said: ‘GAZ is a company with great potential and is very well placed to become a major global player. It has strong roots and scale in one of the fastest growing automotive markets in the world. The resources are in place to make further acquisitions and attract high calibre people. I believe this is the most exciting automotive development today and look forward to making my contribution to the group and the industry.’

Philip Dougall, managing director of Sun European Partners, which advises Sun Capital Partners, said: ‘LDV was acquired in December 2005 when the business was only days away from becoming another high-profile collapse for the long-suffering UK automotive industry.

‘We strongly believed that its inherent value, particularly in the high-quality Maxus range of vehicles, could be unlocked through a rapid and fundamental overhaul of operations, working closely with a skilled and committed workforce.’

Unions have welcomed the news of the takeover deal.

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