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German Carmaker Goes Bankrupt

May 30, 2002

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BERLIN (AP) _ An automotive company that once made East Germany’s sputtering little Trabant car said Thursday it had filed for bankruptcy, nine years after western entrepreneurs revived it out of the wreckage of the former communist economy.

Ulf Rittinghaus, who took over the Sachsenring company with his brother Ernst-Wilhelm after German reunification, said he was stepping down as chief executive. A rescue plan worked out with German creditor banks and the state of Saxony would secure continued operations and the company’s 1,400 jobs, he said in a statement.

Initially relaunched as a car parts supplier, Sachsenring expanded over the years into other ventures, buying a firm that armors vehicles and even developing a new concept car.

Last March, the company said it urgently needed some 40 million euros, or $37 million, to stay afloat and posted a 3.5 million euro, or $3.3 million, operating loss for 2001.

The Sachsenring plant in Zwickau produced the smoke-belching, plastic-body Trabant from 1957 until the East German economy went bust along with the entire country after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. In its communist heyday, more than 12,000 workers held guaranteed jobs at the plant, most of which was razed or shuttered after reunification.

The bankruptcy filing was for the company’s core operations, Sachsenring Automobiltechnik AG and Sachsenring Fahrzeugtechnik GmbH.

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