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Parts supplier's future grim

An uncertain future looms over ACL's 350 employees.

However, the company's future, and that of its 340 employees, remains bleak. The appointment of administrators prompted the company's secured lender, Ford, to appoint Greg Keith and Matthew Byrnes of GrantThornton as receivers and managers.

Ford has informed the directors that the business will continue to trade under the control of GrantThornton while a buyer is sought. Apart from Ford, its biggest client, ACL is a major supplier of engine bearings to GM-Holden and Toyota.

Ford Australia spokesperson, Sinead McAlary, said while the receivers had guaranteed continuity of supply in the short term, its long-term security is paramount. "The goal is to continue supply while they consider all the options," she said. "We are their biggest customer so they are a critical supplier for us."

In June, ACL secured a $5 million Federal Government bail out package on condition it review its business model to become more competitive as part of a $21.7 million 17-point restructuring plan. McAlary said Ford Australia also contributed a "significant" amount to help the company but declined to say how much.

The Federal Industry Minister, Kim Carr, said the government would work with GrantThornton to try to avoid disruption to the automotive sector. Carr said the company's future was pivotal to Ford Australia and other suppliers and affects tens of thousands of jobs. "Doing nothing was not an option given the strategic importance of ACL to the broader industry," he said. "The task now is to focus on the needs of the workers and on maintaining production of the essential components required by Ford and Toyota."

ACL is an unlisted public company, headquartered in Launceston and apart from Ford, supplies components to GM-Holden, Toyota Australia. The company also owns ACL Gasket Company in Brisbane, ACL Distribution, Inc in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Automotive Components NZ Ltd in Auckland.