CEO of OJSC Luch Minsk Watch Plant Nikolay Gaevsky has officially confirmed that his struggling business entity is “in final acquisition talks” with the Swiss watch maker Franck Muller.
Earlier last week local press speculated that the Swiss brand has agreed to buy 52 percent of Luch’s assets and promised to invest around USD $10 million in the cash strapped plant’s retooling and relocation to a nearby town Lahoysk, which is located about 20 miles north from Belarus capital Minsk. In return, Franck Muller gets a pricey piece of land in Minsk where it can build an A-class business center and/or residential buildings.
There are also rumors among Luch’s workers that the new owner plans to fire “everyone older than 35 years of age,” but the fears are probably grossly exaggerated, since in October 2010 Mr. Vartan Sirmakes of Franck Muller promised to keep all 800 jobs intact.
Also, in October 2010, Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Franck Muller was ready to promote Luch brand “at the world market” and planned to build “The Watch Village” near Minsk. He also said that the Swiss watch maker will buy 52 percent of Luch’s assets and will take in asset management the other 48 percent of the shares that will remain in the government’s hands.
Franck Muller refused to comment on the news.