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Three Top North American Companies Received the Invest in France Automotive Award

CHICAGO, April 13 -- Three top North American automotive companies were honored by the French government at the tenth annual Invest in France Automotive Awards ceremony held at the Detroit Institute of Arts on April 12 during the 2005 SAE World Congress.

The three companies honored this year were GM Powertrain, Magna International, and Spartech Corporation. The Invest in France Automotive Awards are presented annually by the Invest in France Agency to recognize leading North American automotive companies that have made a significant investment in new or expanded facilities in France.

The French government presents these awards because of the importance of the automotive industry in France. With 19 auto manufacturing plants producing over 3.6 million vehicles annually, the country is Europe's second largest automotive manufacturing center. France is also home to nearly 600 tier-one and more than 3,000 tier-two suppliers. And, like Detroit, Paris is the leading automotive purchasing center for the continent, with its purchasing decisions affecting nearly 14 percent of global vehicle production.

Each of the three companies received a highly prized, limited-edition crystal automobile designed and cast by the world-renowned glasswork manufacturer Compagnie Française du Cristal Daum. Founded in 1887 by master craftsman Jean Daum and his descendants, Daum Crystal represents the glassmaker's highest achievement in the world of decorative arts.

Presenting the crystal awards to executives representing the three awardees were Laurent Trupin, COO of the Invest in France Agency; The Honorable Richard Barbeyron, Consul General of France in Chicago; and Michel Viger, President of the Invest in France Agency North America.

Receiving the awards on behalf of their companies were Tom Stephens, GM group Vice President; George Abd, Executive Vice President of Spartech Corporation; and Mark Hogan, President of Magna International Inc.

GM was recognized for investing approximately 160 million euros in its Strasbourg plant to produce its new family of sophisticated 6-speed rear-wheel drive automatic transmissions. The investment includes facility renovation, new machinery, and equipment and tooling to support new processes. Production is scheduled to begin in 2006. The Strasbourg plant was established in 1967 and has built more than 7.5 million transmissions. GM Strasbourg hosts the European Technical Center for the development of automatic transmissions and employs over 1,600 people.

Magna International received the award for the investment made by its Cosma division, in the Farébersviller area located in the Lorraine region of France. The company will be setting up a new facility to produce chassis components for future vehicles of European car manufacturers.

Finally, Spartech Corporation was recently awarded a substantial, long- term program by Visteon Corporation to manufacture coextruded, multi-layer plastic sheets applicable in thermoformed fuel tanks. In order to produce this new technology in Europe, Spartech has decided to invest nearly $15 million in an expansion of its Donchery facility in the Ardennes region of France. This extension will result in the creation of approximately 50 new jobs in the next three years for the chosen location.


The 2005 Invest in France Automotive Awards ceremony was sponsored by Butzel Long, a leading law firm with over 215 lawyers and offices throughout Michigan and in strategic locations in Florida and China; RSM International (RSMi), the sixth largest professional service accounting and consulting organization in the world, operating in over 70 countries and bringing together the talents of over 20,000 individuals in over 600 offices; and Ward's AutoWorld, the automotive OEM industry's preferred magazine, which puts news, trends and technology into perspective for today's automotive professional.

Previous Recipients:

Including this year's three corporate recipients, the Invest in France Automotive Award has been bestowed on a total of thirty-three leading North American corporations. Previous winners are:

  2004:  AxleTech International, Cignet LLC, and Johnson Control, Inc.
  2003:  Advanced Accessory Systems LLC, Burgess-Norton Mfg Co., Dow
         Automotive, L&L Products, Inc., Visteon Corporation
  2002:  ArvinMeritor, Lear Corporation, Altair Engineering
  2001:  Delphi Energy & Chassis Systems, Harman International, Moll
         Industries, The Timken Co.
  2000:  Visteon, Act Laboratories, Honeywell Turbocharging Systems
  1999:  Dana Corporation, Oxford Automotive
  1998:  ITT Automotive, Standard Products, Tenneco Automotive
  1997:  Eaton Corporation, Ogura Corporation, Rockwell International, TRW
  1996:  BorgWarner, Donnelly Corp., Ford Motor Co., Gates Rubber, Delphi
         Thermal Systems

  About the Invest in France Agency North America (IFANA)

The Invest in France Agency is the French government agency for international investment. Invest in France Agency North America provides US, Canadian and Mexican executives with customized, confidential, complimentary services including financial and fiscal incentives, key industry contacts and site selection studies. Its mission is to help North American companies find the most profitable and competitive solution in France for their business in Europe.