Detail
1970

TAKEOVER BY BOMBARDIER{{br}AND INVESTMENT IN GUNSKIRCHEN

Bombardier takes over Lohnerwerke and all Rotax Werk AG shares

A TAKEOVER WITH A FANFARE

The close collaboration and mutual trust between Rotax and Bombardier, and not least strategic considerations, lead Rotax to contemplate allowing a takeover of its engine production for the first time. Having risen to become world leaders, Bombardier snowmobiles benefit from high performance, reliable Rotax engines. Whilst such close cooperation continues to result in innovative products, Bombardier also wants to secure its supply. So in 1969, it decides to inform Lohnerwerke – the Rotax-Werk AG majority shareholder – that it intends to acquire the company. Lohnerwerke in turn comes to a rapid decision, fearing that Bombardier will set up its own engine plant, which would lead to Rotax suffering a significant downturn in snowmobile engine sales. Closing day is 01/12/1970 and Bombardier acquires Lohnerwerke, along with all its Rotax shares. Lohnerwerke and Rotax become Bombardier Rotax GmbH, with the two plants – Gunskirchen and Vienna – remaining autonomous divisions. This creates a company with an annual production of 267,000 engines and over 1,000 employees.

SKEPTICISM GIVES WAY TO EUPHORIA

Rotax’ history naturally makes people skeptical about the imminent takeover. However, the companies’ close collaboration in the preceding years pays off and soon concern about jobs gives way to euphoria about a shared future: “We were happy that Bombardier got involved – that’s why there was such euphoria, they were our customer, after all! They could potentially invest further in Gunskirchen! And that’s just what they did,” remembers Gerhard Niederwimmer, who was a mechanic in the Rotax Development Division in 1969/1970. The then Head of Development, Dr. Heinz Lippitsch, summarizes: “The mood was characterized by a certain excitement. The uncertainty quickly subsided, because Bombardier invested heavily – with new halls being finished as early as 1972. Relations with the new parent company consequently became very good.”

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