Turn-of-the-year reports that insolvent German mobile phone maker BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co. would close after attracting no buyers seem to have sparked new interest in rescuing the former Siemens AG business.
Two bidders have submitted formal offers: Cleveland sensor company Sentex Sensing Technology Inc. and U.S./German investors associated with San Francisco-based investment firm SF Capital Partners LLC.
BenQ Mobile's administrator, Martin Prager of Pluta Rechtsanwalts GmbH, also has talked with another potential bidder, German laptop computer manufacturer Bacoc GmbH of Hamburg, according to a Reuters news story.
Press reports suggest Bacoc wants to expand its electronics product range to include mobile phones, while Sentex is keen to take advantage of technology gained from Siemens' former research and development and to get market access in Europe.
In September, a year after it was acquired by Taiwanese electronics firm BenQ Corp., the phone maker applied for bankruptcy protection from creditors. That followed Taipei-based BenQ's decision to pull the financial plug on its German offshoot.
When no bidders came forward by the end of December, Prager warned that he would order the closure of BenQ Mobile's Munich office and its plant in Kamp-Lintfort, Germany. Of the firm's 3,000-strong workforce, around 400 are reported to have found other jobs and the remainder are being paid for up to a year under a transitional arrangement backed by Siemens AG.
The only work being carried out at the BenQ Mobile plant is the completion of existing unfinished handsets, and it will be difficult to continue the business after the end of January, according to the administrator's office.
Since BenQ cut adrift its German subsidiary, the group has taken time to shake up the remainder of its cell phones division, largely in Asia. In December a spokesman said it planned continued ``adjustments to headcount and capacity'' in the handset business.
The sudden collapse of the formerly ailing Siemens phone business under BenQ has hit suppliers of plastics components hard. One major supplier, Banda AG of Bad Oeyenhausen, Germany, announced in October a plan to shed more than 1,000 jobs and sell three plants in the country.
BenQ Corp., Taiwan's largest mobile phone maker, also is a world leader in liquid-crystal-display monitors and produces digital cameras and projectors. It has plants in Taoyuan, Taiwan; Suzhou and Shanghai, China; Mexicali, Mexico; Manaus, Brazil; and Brno, the Czech Republic.