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VW to rebuild wrecked plant outside Sarajevo

September 29, 1997

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) _ German automaker Volkswagen plans to rebuild a passenger car plant outside Sarajevo that was wrecked in the Bosnian war, a company spokesman said Monday.

The start of production is not set, but VW is in the ``decisive phase″ of cooperation talks with UNIS, a Bosnian concern that was its partner in the prewar venture, spokesman Kurt Rippholz said.

Plans call for the new factory to assemble up to 40,000 Skoda Felicia compact cars annually by 2000, he said. Skoda is Volkwagen AG’s Czech subsidiary.

The plant in the Vogosca suburb ended up in Bosnian Serb hands near the frontline when war broke out in 1992 and was heavily damaged by shells and shooting. Bosnian Serbs looted the plant when they retreated in 1996 under the Dayton peace agreement.

Some 3,500 workers at Vogosca built VW Golf compacts, including a flatbed version, before the war.

VW wants a controlling stake in the new venture, Rippholz said.

Still to be wrapped up is the status of the prewar joint venture. VW is negotiating with UNIS over its claims pending from before the war and the firing of some 100 people still on the venture payroll.