WARSAW - Poland has invited four investors, including Volkswagen and MG Rover, to take over troubled car plant Daewoo-FSO, a treasury ministry spokesman said on Friday.
Poland has long been seeking a partner for the Warsaw-based carmaker, which was left out in the cold after General Motors took over South Korea's bankrupt Daewoo Motor operations in 2002.
"We are expecting responses from the four companies by February 5," treasury spokesman Janusz Kwiatkowski said.
The other two are Ukraine's AvtoZAZ, which assembles Daewoo cars, and U.S.-based auto trader Nucarco. The four have long been said to be sizing up the Polish market, where sales have been rising for more than a year.
Daewoo-FSO, which has a total capacity of as many as 200,000 cars a year, makes Matiz and Lanos models and is seeking to extend its licence beyond the October 2004 expiry date.
A takeover could give a foreign investor quick access to central Europe's largest automotive market, which joins the European Union in May and whose labor costs are much lower than in the west, say industry experts.
"We are very happy things are finally moving," Daewoo-FSO spokeswoman Krystyna Danilczyk told Reuters. "We are open for talks with any partner that could secure our future. Without an investor we will not be able to survive."
The treasury, which now owns about 15 percent in the Warsaw plant -- one of Poland's three passenger car producers apart from Fiat and GM's Opel -- is looking for a buyer for the 80 percent that remains in Daewoo Motor's assets.
To save the company from collapse, Daewoo-FSO's owners approved a large debt-for-equity swap last year and agreed to halve its workforce to about 1,500.
Earlier MG Rover expressed interest in taking control of the ailing manufacturer but tough talks with Daewoo-FSO's creditors have blocked various proposals.
Volkswagen, which has large production facilities in the neighboring Czech Republic and Slovakia, makes vans near the western Polish city of Poznan.