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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Voronezh to Hold Tender For TV Tube Factory Stake

The Voronezh region will hold a tender in late September to find a new investor for the VELT television picture tube factory after Dutch electronics giant Philips pulled out of the project, a regional official said Friday.

The regional government recently took control of the 89 percent stake in the factory previously owned by Philips Display Components, a division of Royal Philips Electronics.

Deputy Governor Vadim Sukhoverkhov said the tender will be open to all comers, foreign or domestic. "We are looking for anyone interested in doing this type of production," he said.

Philips' involvement in the plant dates back to 1992, when it began buying shares from factory workers. It acquired another 15 percent in 1993, and claims to have invested about $64 million into the factory since then.

Neither Philips nor Sukhoverkhov would say why the Dutch company sold its stake to the regional government or for how much. Prime-Tass, however, reported that the transfer was payment for some of the factory's extensive debts.

In February, the regional government claimed Philips owed 47 million rubles ($7.5 million) in taxes for VELT.

At the time, Sukhoverkhov asserted Philips had failed to carry out its promise to invest $63 million in the plant and by his calculations the multinational had spent just $18 million, mainly on upkeep and paying salaries the first two years. Furthermore, he said production had ceased for more than a year and the 3,500 workers had not received salaries for months.

"The main motive behind buying up a plant and then keeping it at a standstill can only be to get rid of the competition for their imported televisions sets," he said in February.

When asked about these statements Friday, Sukhoverkhov only said: "You'll have to ask Philips how much they put into the plant. ... The Voronezh regional government and Philips have come to an agreement."