Ford shutters oldest Brazil plant as revival bid faces doubts

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (N:) on Wednesday said it was shutting down its oldest plant in Brazil later in the day as planned, with prospects for saving any of the jobs in doubt as talks with a potential buyer have fallen behind schedule.

The plant, located in the industrial suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo, produced buses and the Fiesta compact car, which sold poorly. It employed up to 2,800 people earlier this year, although it is unclear how many were still working there as of October.

Ford first announced it would shut down the plant in February, and said it had failed to find a buyer. But then the Sao Paulo government intervened and a local automaker, CAOA, expressed interest.

CAOA, Ford and the Sao Paulo state government announced in September that they had reached a preliminary deal, but needed 45 days to carry out due diligence. That time period has already expired, and neither side has provided an explanation. CAOA declined to comment.

CAOA got its start as a Ford dealership, but expanded into manufacturing with a contract with Hyundai and later bought 50% of Chinese automaker Chery’s [CHERY.UL] operation in Brazil. While Brazil is a base for many multinational automakers, CAOA is the rare manufacturer to be locally owned.

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