ATS to expand presence in France with new automation facility | Automation.com

ATS to expand presence in France with new automation facility

ATS to expand presence in France with new automation facility
CAMBRIDGE, ON, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc., the world's leading industrial automation company, today announced it is starting construction on a new automation systems facility in Bourgoin-Jallieu, France. The new 91,000 square feet manufacturing plant will be located on a 8.6 acre site and will replace ATS France's two outmoded leased facilities (together 65,000 square feet) also located in Bourgoin-Jallieu, just outside of Lyon, France.

The new plant will be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2003. ATS has received a $590,000 grant and a low interest rate loan for approximately $300,000 from the city of Bourgoin-Jallieu, the department of l'Isère and the region Rhône-Alpes to defray the total estimated $6.5 million cost to acquire the land and build the facility.

"This expansion sends a strong message to our European customers that ATS is absolutely committed to serving their long-term needs from a state-of-the- art, purpose-built manufacturing plant, strategically located in a key region of France," said Klaus Woerner, ATS President and Chief Executive Officer. "By deploying this capital now to expand our presence, ATS is once again demonstrating leadership and ensuring it has the scope necessary to accommodate future growth, without the constraints found in these dysfunctional, leased facilities. The consolidation will allow us to improve the efficiency of our automation systems workforce in France. The new building will have the right specifications to handle even larger customer projects, and the site provides us with the option to expand the plant in future when needs dictate."

ATS France was formed as a result of the acquisition of the assets of the French automation systems division of ALSTOM in December, 1999. Since then, revenues have grown strongly and in its last fiscal year (12 months ended March 31, 2002), ATS France generated automation systems revenue of $27 million, compared to annual revenues of approximately $15 million at the time of the acquisition.

ATS is a major employer in Bourgoin-Jallieu, with a total workforce of approximately 435 people, 80 of whom work at ATS France. ATS's solar subsidiary, Photowatt International, employs the majority of the Company's workforce in the area, and its facility will be unaffected by today's announcement.

"We commend the local and regional governments for partnering with ATS on our investments," said Mr. Woerner. "As their economic assessment showed, this is a win-win situation for both parties. Looking to the future, we expect ATS will capitalize on its upgraded presence in France to better serve customers, while adding employment for skilled people and increased sales and earnings for our shareholders."

About ATS
ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. (www.atsautomation.com) is the industry's leading designer and producer of turn-key automated manufacturing and test systems, which are used primarily by multinational corporations operating in a variety of industries including: automotive, computer/electronics, healthcare, and consumer products. The Company also makes precision components and sub-assemblies using its own custom-built manufacturing systems, process knowledge and automation technology. Through Photowatt International S.A., and Spheral Solar Power Inc., ATS is an emerging leader in the rapidly growing market for solar energy cells and modules. ATS employs approximately 3,200 people at 26 facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The Company's shares are traded on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol ATA.

Certain forward looking statements are made in this news release, including statements regarding possible future business. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, continued acceptance of ATS's products, technologies, customer requirements and other risks detailed from time to time in ATS's periodic reports filed with Canadian regulatory authorities.
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