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MMAL eyes virtual HQ

Discontinued: Mitsubishi 380 production at Tonsley Park.

Mitsubishi considers virtual head office as sale of its Adelaide factory shapes up

Mitsubishi logo6 May 2008

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) is investigating setting up a “virtual head office” as the company prepares to move out of the Adelaide suburb of Tonsley Park.

However, a small engineering division will be maintained, as MMAL intends to provide Australian input into some of the future models it intends to import. MMAL president and CEO Robert McEniry revealed to GoAuto last week that the reorganisation and restructuring of the Australian arm of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) as a result of moving to a full-line importer of vehicles is allowing for fresh ideas and directions.

“We’ve looked at several options, including a virtual office,” he told GoAuto in Adelaide. “The business today, with electronic communications and the need to travel, may offer us another and different opportunity in the way we structure our head office.”

Mr McEniry would not elaborate on the size or scope of its proposed Australian engineering department, except to say that more information will be released in due course.

“We will talk about it later on. We will have a small engineering capability here that will be part of a broader MMC global operation. But once the organisation is in place we will talk about that separately,” he said.

For now, MMAL will remain in Tonsley Park as it works through the process of finding a buyer for the former manufacturing site with KPMG, which is assisting with MMAL with the sale of its premises. PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia continues to be MMAL's auditor, as it has been for more than 20 years.

It is unlikely that the company will move away from South Australia, at least in the foreseeable future.

 center imageMMAL president and CEO Robert McEniry.

“We’ll maintain our head office at Tonsley Park until we know who the buyer is and what their intentions are with the facilities,” Mr McEniry said. “We’ll make the decision then whether we will continue in that building or relocate somewhere else in Adelaide.”

For the time being, MMAL will continue to use the Tonsley Park facility – which has been its home since buying out Chrysler Australia in October 1980 – in its current form, as a provider of spare parts to the most recent models that it has manufactured there.

“We’re still using the facilities until the end of October or November for stamping service parts and sub-assemblies etc that we need for both the Magna series and the 380,” said Mr McEniry, adding that the sale of the site was a long and complicated process.

“There are many interested parties for the vast manufacturing site, as well as the plant equipment,” he said. “So I would anticipate by early next year we will conclude the sale – somewhere around there.

“We have engaged KPMG to act as project manager, and their primary task (to the end of March) was to solicit expressions of interest and some market soundings to the level of interest.

“There were over 345 expressions of interest – at various levels – from two square metres of land right up to the whole property.

“Our initial intention was to be able to sell the property effectively as a going concern, with equipment in situ etc, to allow interested parties including the South Australian government to take advantage of that opportunity.

“(However) there is not much interest in doing that, clearly. Parts of that facility and parts of the equipment... yes, although it’s not a very viable option.

“(So) we’ve re-engaged KPMG through the end of June to really confirm the serious players in the marketplace. We will sell off the plant both to the broad market but primarily to MMC and MMC suppliers, and then sell the property.

“After the end of June we’ll probably go into a more serious sale process for the facilities.”

Mr McEniry is confident that the sale will net a great result for MMC.

“The government is interested – it’s quite an interesting block. It’s 20 minutes from the centre of the city it’s 160 acres of land it’s a massive site in its relation to Adelaide.

“We’re trying to move through it as quickly as we can, and get the best commercial outcome for all the parties,” he said.

Read more:

Mitsubishi's last 380 rolls off the line

Official: Mitsubishi Oz to close its Adelaide factory

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