Perth international shipbuilder Austal is to exit its joint venture in China which has operated only since 2016.
The company, which builds multi-hulled aluminium ferries in Australia and Asia and warships for the US Navy, announced it was planning to sell its 40 per cent stake in Aulong Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
Guandong Jianglong Shipbuilding of Zhuhai, China holds the remaining share, with the two companies in discussion to exit their venture by 31 October, 2021.
Austal did not give any reason for ending the China venture, which has licensed a number of Austal’s advanced ferry designs for production for the China market.
However Austal is currently investing $50 million – matched by the US government – in its Mobile, Alabama yard (pictured) to enable it to begin constructing steel warships for the USN.
It is also building capability in its Philippines and Vietnam shipyards.
The China venture employs 1,000 in two shipyards and is small in size by comparison with Austal’s multi-national shipbuilding efforts elsewhere, which it owns 100 per cent and fully controls.
There is no suggestion that the sale has been sparked by Australia’s deteriorating relations with China under the Morrison government.
Perhaps the company is too stretched, the China venture has simply not lived up to expectations, or Austal’s Chinese partner has learned what it wants from the arrangement.
Image: Austal/Mobile, Alabama
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