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Lonstroff's elastomer production to be launched in October

Logatec, 09 January (STA) - An elastomer production facility which Sumitomo's Swiss subsidiary Lonstroff is building in Slovenia is on schedule, with production to be launched in October. The construction site in Logatec was on Wednesday visited by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Japanese multinational Sumitomo Rubber Industries' representatives.

Test production will be launched in April, and the investment is in line with the financial plan, Lonstroff Slovenija director Peter Weber, Lonstroff CEO Urs Bahnmüller and Naofumi Harada, director at Sumitomo's unit for hybrid rubber products, told the press.

The three-storey 15,000-square metre facility is being built by Slovenia's Kolektor Koling. Production will be largely on the ground floor, with laboratories and offices on the upper floor. The machines have already been ordered and should be installed soon.

According to Weber and Bahnmüller, ten future production managers have already been hired and sent to Switzerland for training. Another 40-50 workers are to be hired by the time the trial stage is launched, whereas the total number of employees by the time production is fully launched is to reach 180.

Weber also said the plot bought for the facility was large enough for potential expansion of production. At the moment, the plan is to build another 3,000 square metres in premises and hire up to another 50 workers.

For the time being, R&D is not planned to be transferred to Logatec, but remains in Switzerland, according to Bahnmüller.

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Počivalšek was happy with the progress he could witness at the construction site.

He is particularly proud the facility for production of elastomers for medical use is being built on a degraded industrial area, noting there were almost 1,100 such areas in Slovenia.

He highlighted another two major foreign investments under way in Slovenia, Yaskawa's robots factory in Kočevje and a paint shop by Canadian-Austrian automobile multinational Magna Steyr.

The investment in Logatec is estimated at EUR 48m, of which EUR 4.8m will be contributed by the state as an incentive. According to Počivalšek, EUR 910,000 was already transferred to the investor in December, with the rest to follow this year.

The land Lonstroff has bought for its factory has recently made headlines due to potential wrongdoing, resulting in staffing replacements at Slovenia's bad bank.

The bad bank got the plot from defunct bank Factor Banka, sold it on to real estate agency Svet Re for EUR 2m, but the latter then sold it to Lonstroff for EUR 3m five days later.

Weber said this had not affected the investment, but noted not all the information in the media was accurate, so the company would provide an explanation soon.

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