Van Hool declared bankrupt by Belgian court

A15LE E battery-electric bus A15LE E battery-electric bus (Photo: Van Hool)

Belgian bus OEM Van Hool has been declared bankrupt by the Commercial Court of Mechelen, a court in Belgium which deals with commercial litigation.

According to media reports the company had accumulated a debt of €400 million. This was further compounded by a family inheritance dispute over shares in the company which evidently stretches back over decades.

VDL Group in the Netherlands and Schmitz Cargobull in Germany have submitted a joint offer for the bus OEM. There is also an offer from Belgian business empresario Guido Dumarey, which is supported by American ABC, the dealer group of Van Hool in the US in which the Van Hool family owns a 33% stake.

Should the VDL/Cargobull offer be accepted, the former would take control of the bus and coach portion of the business, while the latter would be responsible for industrial vehicles.

The future for some employees at Van Hool looks uncertain. The VDL/Cargobull offer would likely see between 650 and 950 employees retained, with approximately 1,600 job losses, most at the factory in Koningshooikt.

Founded in 1947, Van Hool had operations in Belgium and in Skopje, North Macedonia.

The company is reported to have a series of outstanding vehicle orders, including an order for 20 ExquiCity streetcars to Paris, part of a 56-bus order for a new line in Paris. There is also an order for Qbuzz Netherlands covering 93 vehicles, including 54 A15LE E battery-electric buses. It is uncertain whether these and any other orders will be fulfilled.


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