Siemens' UK investments ~`at risk'


THE plans of Siemens UK to invest up to £1 billion sterling in Britain and create 4,000 new jobs would be at risk if the British government did not take part in European Monetary Union, it was reported by the Observer in Britain yesterday.

The newspaper quoted Siemens British chief executive, Mr Jurgen Gehrels, as saying that as a major exporter the company needed exchange rate stability.

"If Britain decides not to join the single currency it will definitely affect our investment decisions in the future" said Mr Gehrels. "I am quite sure the same applies to others especially companies that serve not just the UK market but world markets."

The announcement follows similar warnings from other major international companies operating in Britain, including Unilever.

Toyota president, Mr Hiroshi Okuda, has also warned that the car makers strategy might switch away from Britain if it stayed out side monetary union.

Shortly after making that announcement, Toyota said it was considering opening a £1 billion factory in Northern France instead of expanding its plant in Derbyshire.

Earlier this year, Siemens announced plans to boost sales in Britain from £1.5 billion sterling to £4.4 billion by 2001 and to increase its workforce to at least 18,000. The German electrical engineering group currently employs 14,000 people in Britain.

Mr Gebriels also told the newspaper that the social chapter was a "red herring".

"The UK's opt out played no part in our decision to come to the UK. We are not a sweat shop," he was quoted as saying.