21 January 2000

AGCO to switch UStractor work to French plant

By Peter Hill

AGCOs tractor plant in Beauvais, France gets a shot in the arm this year with plans to add production of models currently put together in the US.

The assembly switch is part of consolidation moves at AGCO as the company adjusts to reduced demand for agricultural machinery products in North America.

Two plants the company acquired during its growth years will be closed – a leased factory in Texas making seed drills and cultivators, and its own plant in Coldwater, Ohio where seeders, hay equipment and manure spreaders are assembled.

Tractors are also produced at Coldwater. Based on the Massey Ferguson 8200-series design, they are turned out in MF, AGCO-Allis and AGCO-White colours with different engine makes used for each brand added to cabs and rear axle/transmission assemblies shipped from France.

Later this year, Beauvais will take over complete assembly of these models, adding a useful 450 to 500 units to the plants annual production volume.

Manufacture of implements made at the plants to be closed will be transferred to Hay & Forage Industries, the 50:50 joint venture with Case, which AGCO is keen to buy outright from CNH Global. The newly merged Case-New Holland concern must sell its half-share in HFI to satisfy US government competition concerns.

Reports from trade sources in the US also suggest AGCO is interested in buying the New Holland tractor plant in Winnipeg, Canada – another which CNH Global must sell-off within the next few months. The purchase could include the Versatile range of articulated four-wheel drive tractors and the New Holland G/70 line of 170hp to 240hp tractors.

Another contender, Winnipeg-based Buhler Industries, has publicly declared its interest in the factory.

The company, which makes tractor fore-loaders, has tried to buy the plant before. It wants to set-up an assembly facility for small farm and industrial wheeled loaders in partnership with Wiedemann of Germany.