Linamar Plans C$750 Million Expansion With Government Support

(Bloomberg) -- The Canadian and Ontario governments are pledging money to support an expansion by auto parts maker Linamar Corp., one of a raft of firms whose future partly depends on the outcome of Nafta talks.

Linamar will announce the C$750 million ($600 million) project on Monday, supported by C$49 million from the federal government and up to C$50 million from Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, according to a federal government statement. The expansion will create 1,500 jobs and “maintain” another 8,000, the statement said.

The fate of Nafta is murky -- U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to quit and Canadian officials last week said they thought the odds he’d give notice of doing so are rising. Nonetheless, Trump and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan each said last week they’d rather renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement than kill it.

The manufacturer’s expansion will support artificial intelligence, three-dimensional printing and clean technology, the statement from the office of Canadian Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said.

“Innovation is the single most important thing we can do in terms of product design, process design and material development to solve global problems and create opportunities for us all to succeed," Linamar Chief Executive Officer Linda Hasenfratz said in a written statement. "To have our government support us in that endeavor is fantastic, further cementing the fact that Canada is a great place for advanced manufacturing to thrive.” 

Hasenfratz also sits on the Canadian government’s Nafta advisory panel. The sixth round of Nafta talks is set to kick off in Montreal later this month, with autos one of the key sticking points. Bains is also due to attend the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday afternoon.

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