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Toyota pinpoints Canada for new plant

Eyes Ontario site for $600-million facility; final decision not yet made, sources say

By GREG KEENAN

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 Page B1

AUTO INDUSTRY REPORTER

Toyota Motor Corp. has zeroed in on a site near Woodstock, Ont., as the location for a new, $600-million assembly plant that would create about 1,500 jobs and could eventually lead to the auto maker doubling its production in Canada.

Landing the new plant would be a significant victory for Canada amid intense political pressure and huge financial incentives offered by several U.S. states and would help justify recent efforts by the Ontario and federal governments to try to win major new automotive investments.

The auto maker has chosen a spot of about 1,000 acres near Highway 401 and Highway 2 in Oxford County just east of Woodstock, 30 minutes away from its existing operations in Cambridge, Ont., industry sources said.

Toyota has not made a final decision, the sources cautioned, but they said the plant is Canada's to lose -- in part because Toyota officials in Japan regard Canadian workers highly and in part because new plants are already under construction or being expanded in the United States.

The company's Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. plant in Cambridge employs about 4,300 people and is the only plant outside Japan to manufacture vehicles for the auto maker's luxury Lexus line, which is considered a high honour in the Toyota realm.

Toyota Motor Canada spokesman Greig Mordue would not confirm the information.

The auto maker's sales are growing in North America and the company's philosophy is to build vehicles where they are sold, he said.

Canada is a strong contender for new investment if such investments are planned, he added.

The Toyota factory, if it goes ahead, would be the first new assembly plant in Canada since 1995 and only the second since 1989.

The other new plant is a Honda Motor Co. Ltd. plant in Alliston, Ont.

The traditional Big Three auto makers -- the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. -- have invested billions of dollars in Canada during that same time frame, but have built no new assembly plants. Recent investment announcements of $2.5-billion by GM and $1-billion by Ford are to redevelop existing operations.

Sources familiar with the Toyota proposal said the new investment in Canada is aided by a plan to make it essentially a satellite operation of the Cambridge facility, which would reduce administrative costs. The Oxford County site is also served by a Canadian National Railway Co. line. It is also easily accessible to 400 series highways that lead to three separate border crossings, one in Sarnia, Ont., another at Fort Erie, Ont., and the clogged Windsor-Detroit crossing.

Toyota has been looking at expanding production capacity in North America for more than a year, even with a new pickup truck plant already under construction in San Antonio, Tex.

The talk of the new Canadian plant comes amid an attempt by the Canadian Auto Workers union to organize workers at the Cambridge operation.

The union has been aiming to hold a certification vote at the plant this month, but such a vote can only be held when a minimum of 40 per cent of the workers have signed union cards. A simple majority of 50 per cent plus one is required for certification.

Hemi Mitic, an assistant to CAW president Buzz Hargrove, said yesterday that the union has not yet requested a vote because it's not sure what the true numbers in the plant are after the company made about 140 contract workers full-time employees last week.

A previous attempt to organize workers in Cambridge failed when the union was unable to sign up the required 40 per cent of workers.

The only unionized Toyota assembly plant in North America is a joint venture facility with General Motors Corp. in California.

Toyota is on a roll in North America, with sales of 2.3 million cars, trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles last year. The auto maker produced 1.444 million vehicles at plants in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Expansion plans

Cambridge - Toyota's existing plant

Built: 1988

Expanded: 2003

Employees: 4,300

Investment: $2.8-billion

2004 production:

Corolla sedan - 141,445

Matrix utility vehicle - 81,064

RX330 luxury SUV - 65,350

Woodstock - proposed plant

About 1,000 acres just east of Woodstock

SOURCE: Toyota
 

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Woodstock-area plant is just weeks away.

Toyota plant in Oxford imminent

NORMAN DE BONO, Free Press Business Reporter 2005-04-13 03:30:37

:eek2:
Toyota is weeks away from announcing a new automotive assembly plant for Oxford County and the London Economic Development Corp. is looking to land parts plants to feed the new plant, industry observers said yesterday. The plant, which will employ 1,500 to 2,000, will land in Blandford-Blenheim Township, near Woodstock, and assemble a small entry vehicle, they said.

"The prospects are very real. The industry is certain it will happen," said Buzz Hargrove, Canadian Auto Workers union president. "An announcement will be made within weeks. It has been in the works now for a long time. It should happen."

A Toyota spokesperson, Greig Mordue, wouldn't comment on specific investment plans, but said Canada's business environment meshes with Toyota's needs.

"(It's) consistent with what Toyota wants," said Mordue, assistant general manager of corporate planning for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada in Cambridge.

Analyst Dennis DesRosiers, speaking after an auto industry conference in London, said Toyota has to move quickly.

"I am hearing the same thing. From a timing point of view it has to get done soon," DesRosiers said of the announcement, believed to be coming in about four weeks.

Toyota wants more vehicles on the market by 2008 to take advantage of expected industry and economic growth and needs more assembly plants to build them, DesRosiers said.

"The market in 2008 will be bullish. We will have gone through the downturn and they want to be prepared for growth. To get capacity in 2008, they have to start this year."

As for what the plant will produce, "I keep hearing a vehicle," DesRosiers said. "It is more likely to be on the low end (smaller vehicle) than high . . . (That is) where the growth is. At least one additional plant is needed."

If Oxford County lands the plant, it will be "a huge benefit" to London, said John Kime, president and chief executive of the London Economic Development Corp.

"There will be jobs spread throughout the region. London will be an enormous beneficiary. We have already started the process of finding out who suppliers will be and contacting them."

Toyota has about 10 per cent of the global marketplace and wants about 15 per cent, DesRosiers said.

Toyota operates six plants in North America, including two assembly plants in Cambridge and new plants in Texas and Tijuana, Mexico.

Canada is due for a plant, he said, but there are obstacles.

DesRosiers pointed to delays in getting goods across the Canada-U.S. border and ongoing CAW union drives at Toyota plants.

"It will be a tremendous opportunity for London and your LEDC was smart to not go after the plant, but go after parts plants. The ripple effect will be even larger than the plant," DesRosiers aid.

But Hargrove believes there will be little spillover from the Toyota plant for the surrounding community.

Toyota tends to have few suppliers because parts are imported from Japan. A few parts plants may open here, he added.

Oxford County is moving quickly to buy more than 400 hectares of land in Blandford-Blenheim, just east of Woodstock and bounded by Highway 401, Oxford County roads 2 and 4 and Township Road 2. The county is also buying property from homeowners in the area.

Toyota's Cambridge plants employ more than 4,000.





Copyright © The London Free Press
 

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Land deals pave way for Toyota

A U.S.-based agent representing a buyer for about 400 hectares of land Oxford County is assembling is in negotiations with the municipality, a county official said. Assembling the parcel, believed critical to landing a Toyota assembly plant, is going well and an announcement on the development should be made in four to six weeks, said Oxford Warden Don Woolcott.

"We have been putting the land together and talking to agents of a real estate development company," said Woolcott.

"We are still working on a few pieces, we're in negotiations with a few individuals and discussions are ongoing, but we are very close," he added. "If there was an announcement in four to six weeks, it would not surprise me, but some things still have to come together."

Woolcott declined to identify the agent, or the prospective buyer, but speculation is growing the site will see a $600-million Toyota vehicle assembly plant which will employ 1,500 to 2,000 workers.

"I believe we are supplying what they want and are working consistently toward that. If we can get it, it will be great news," he said of the Toyota plant.

The site in Blandford-Blenheim Township near Woodstock, north of Highway 401 and east of County Road 2, is largely unserviced farmland. Homeowners have been paid a $5,000 deposit for agreeing to sell their land, which they keep if the deal falls through.

One homeowner revealed the county agreed to pay her about $200,000 for her half-hectare parcel of land, which also has a three-bedroom home. Property owners have been told the deal may close this summer, with development slated to begin in the fall.

One of the large parcels still holding out is the 40-hectare golf course Woodstock Meadows. Owner Henry Vink is still negotiating with county officials, he said.

"We're doing well now, we've really hit our stride. We don't want to sell, but when you're dealing with government, there is a chance they will expropriate," said Vink, who has owned the course for 10 years.

"We would have to relocate, start up again. It takes three years to build and have a new golf course grow in. The biggest thing for me is relocating." He's not surprised an announcement may be four to six weeks away.

"They are moving quickly, they want this tied up fast," Vink added.

Tenants in Blandford Square Mall have been largely left out of the speculation, said Shelly Martin, owner of Jinxi Martin's Family Diner.

"There has been a lot of talk, but we are completely in the dark here," said Martin. "We have heard nothing. I don't think the mall is part of it at all."

The county has backed off recently from hard-sell tactics it had been using, said Doug Eakins, owner of Eakins Haulage.

"I haven't heard from them in about two weeks, things have really cooled off," said Eakins, who owns about 0.6 hectares of land beside the golf course.

"They were pushing pretty hard. They say they are willing to pay fair market value, but what is that? You have to consider moving and relocating the business."

Marie Pearson and her husband thought they'd built their dream home on a 1.6-hectare farm on Township Road 2 about seven years ago, but when an agent for the county knocked on her door last month, she agreed to sell.

"We agreed because they would have put us out if we didn't," she said. "It will be very hard to move."





Copyright © The London Free Press


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oxford angles for mall land

Blandford Square is part of a parcel the county is believed to be assembling for a new Toyota plant.
NORMAN DE BONO, Free Press Business Reporter 2005-04-19 02:22:42


Blandford Square Mall is on the list of land Oxford County wants to buy to pave the way for industrial development. The county is in talks to buy at least part of the 40-hectare site near Highway 401, owned by mall owner First Summit in Toronto.

"The talks are preliminary, there is not an offer on the table yet, but I think the county is very serious," said Joe Chetti, First Summit's owner. "(The county) basically told me they want to do the deal sooner rather than later. I am in favour of development. I am a developer and I love it when things are built."

The mall is part of a 400-hectare parcel being assembled for what many believe will be a new Toyota assembly plant in Blandford-Blenheim Township.

Chetti wants to sell about 24 hectares and keep the rest the mall sits on to redevelop as a commercial site.

The county would rezone the land for industrial use, leaving the mall "the only commercial component," said Chetti. "We can offer exposure to Highway 2, which no one else can. We have access points no one else does. It would be very convenient ."

Oxford Warden Don Woolcott could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The nearly vacant mall has three tenants -- a furniture store, a liquidation store and a restaurant.

"The mall needs a renovation, but it could become a major destination spot -- it is ideal," said Chetti.

The mall has offered land to its east, between its location and the 40-hectare Woodstock Meadows golf course, which the county is also negotiating to buy.

"The county has a lot of confidentiality agreements, but there is obviously a lot of activity out there right now and whatever is coming . . . will be good for the whole area," said Chetti.

The site in Blandford-Blenheim is bound by Oxford roads 2 and 4, Township Road 2 and Highway 401.

The area is largely unserviced farmland. Homeowners have been paid a $5,000 deposit for agreeing to sell their land, which they keep if the deal falls through.

A U.S.-based agent representing a buyer for the land the county is assembling is in negotiations with the municipality, a county official said.

An announcement on the development is expected in four to six weeks, one county official said.

The $600-million Toyota plant may assemble a small vehicle and employ 1,500 to 2,000 workers.

More than a dozen property owners have been approached and most have agreed to sell, with only "a few" still in talks, the county has said.
 

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Dofasco could open new Hamilton operation if Toyota opens Ontario plant

Canadian Press

Friday, May 06, 2005

HAMILTON (CP) - Dofasco might open a new Hamilton galvanized steel facility catering to the automotive market if Toyota Motor Corp. opens a new assembly plant in Ontario, the steelmaker's chief executive said Friday.

Speaking to reporters after the company's annual general meeting, Dofasco CEO Don Pether said Dofasco has already been in discussions with Toyota about supplying the new plant if the project comes to fruition. Recent reports have said that Toyota has chosen a site near Woodstock, Ont., as the future location of a possible $600-million assembly plant that would create about 1,500 jobs.

The waves of that project could ripple to Hamilton, where a new Dofasco galvanizing line could be built for about $200 million.

Galvanizing lines turn steel into an advanced, rust-proof product that is used in automotive bodies.

Last April, Hamilton-based Dofasco and Luxembourg's Arcelor, one of the two largest steelmakers in the world, announced that they were in the final stages of choosing a site in the southern United States for a galvanizing line that would cater to that area's growing auto industry.

The announcement sparked numerous calls from governors hoping to lure the investment to their state, Pether has said.

Dofasco spent a lot of time and effort over eight months working on the project, before announcing that it would not proceed, Pether said Friday. The companies said they were unable to make the project economically attractive.

Dofasco already has a galvanizing line in Hamilton in partnership with Arcelor. That facility was a $200-million investment, Pether said. The company also has a similar facility in Windsor.

If Toyota's project goes ahead, and Dofasco's current galvanizing lines continue to be used to capacity, the company will certainly look at adding a new line in Hamilton, Pether said. Another possibility would be to upgrade its current line, he added.

About 45 per cent of Dofasco's business comes from the automotive market, Pether told a shareholder who was concerned about the fading prospects for Ford and General Motors on Friday.

Dofasco managed to increase its shipments to the auto sector during the first quarter of this year, Pether said at the annual meeting. Honda is one of its largest customers, and the steelmaker also supplies DaimlerChrysler and Toyota.

Dofasco would definitely see an increase in its business if Toyota's Ontario plant is built, Pether said.

He told reporters that agreements between steelmakers, like Arcelor and Dofasco, could be replacing the wave of consolidation that was expected to continue sweeping the steel industry.

A lot of the distressed assets have been bought, and as steel prices soared last year, so did the value of steelmakers. Future consolidation would see companies paying market price plus a premium, Pether said. But technological agreements and joint ventures are continuing to reshape the sector.
 

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Woodstock Waits

Toyota's decision on building a plant in southern Ontario could be just weeks away, report says
By Steve Erwin
The Canadian Press
TORONTO (May 11, 2005)

A decision on whether Toyota will build a manufacturing plant in southern Ontario is just weeks away and the factory could be open by the spring of 2007, sources said yesterday.

A source told The Canadian Press that "agreements in principle" have been reached with Ottawa and the province on funding assistance for the proposed project in Woodstock, Ont., and could be presented at a Toyota Motor Corp. board meeting in Tokyo late next month.

"About the only thing holding it up is reaching some final agreements, probably with the feds more so than the province of Ontario, on training funds," said a source.

Speculation has been mounting for months that Toyota was interested in building a new complex worth up to $1 billion in Woodstock, not far from its massive assembly operations in Cambridge, where workers at two plants make the Corolla, Matrix and Lexus RX 330.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the proposal to construct Toyota's seventh North American assembly plant in Woodstock would be presented at the automaker's monthly board meeting in late June. The Journal also said top Toyota manufacturing executives still need to conduct a final site inspection.

If approved, it would take between 18 months and two years to build the plant, which could initially start up with 1,000 workers making 50,000 vehicles a year. Those figures could be boosted to 2,000 to 3,000 workers producing 150,000 units annually.

Spinoffs of assembly plants can create jobs that support them. Dofasco Inc. chief executive Don Pether said last week that the Hamilton steelmaker would consider building a new galvanizing line in the province if the Toyota plant is secured.

Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts' Manufacturers Association, said spinoff jobs from a new assembly plant can be at least seven to one and as high as 10 to one.

"It would certainly be a significant number and bring a lot of prosperity to the area," Fedchun said.

Getting final government approvals for funds on training and other initiatives, which can significantly reduce the cost of the construction of a manufacturing plant, shouldn't take much longer, the source said.

The Liberal government in Ontario has been more willing than the previous Tory regime to assist automakers, who over the years have been enticed to build factories in U.S. jurisdictions that offered steep subsidies in exchange for the creation of thousands of jobs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
With the Woodstock and London regions getting a huge boost from this potential Toyota plant, Stratford would also benefit, because there are a lot of automotive plants in Stratford, it's second largest economy sector, behind festival/entertainment and tourism, which are about tied.

Now Hamilton could get another Dofasco plant built. The benefits that could become (if the plant is built in Woodstock) would spinoff to other cities like crazy. Just weeks away, I can hardly wait for that announcement!
 

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How about it eyes another part of the world insted? Like a poor country that actualy likes Toyotas.

How about the big three eye Woodstock and make our economy more robust insted of giving a measely 600 people jobs whose hard effot and money go to Asia, where as the big three money would go back into my government's pocket.
I sound bitter, I'm sorry, but in the past 10 years I've seen people's cars trucks and vans turn from 98% domestic to 50. GROSS.
Yeah they're more efficient but screw it, we're all doomed, and they're not going to get rid of fossil fuels in the near future anyways. So what if your crappy Toyota or Honda gets up to max speeds of 12 km/h wastes 3 cents of fuel LESS than my big beefy (insert name here) which gets up to speeds of 2378462385 km/h and makes people's heads turn...

BOLLOCKS
 

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Feds commit funds for proposed new Toyota plant in Woodstock, Ont.

HAMILTON (CP) - Ontario's hopes of landing a new Toyota assembly plant shifted into higher gear Thursday after Ottawa committed $55 million in funding to secure the proposed factory, according to a senior federal official.

The source said cabinet agreed Thursday to the funding package, which along with provincial dollars are seen as crucial in attempts to entice the expanding Japanese automaker to build its next factory in Woodstock, Ont.

The factory could employ more than 1,000 workers and industry estimates suggest spinoff jobs from an auto assembly plant could be as much as 10 to one.

"They're very excited about this one," the source said of Ottawa's interest in the Toyota project.

Toyota already has a massive assembly complex in Cambridge, Ont., but amid improving sales is looking to build its seventh North American plant.

The Woodstock proposal will be presented to Toyota's board late next month in Tokyo.

Word of the federal commitment followed an auto parts conference in Hamilton, where the head of Toyota's Canadian manufacturing operations wouldn't speculate on whether the Woodstock proposal will succeed. Ontario is competing for the plant against U.S. states including Alabama, Michigan and Missouri.

"We've done our best with the co-operations of all of the partners that we need to make that (Woodstock proposal) attractive," said Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Manufacturing Canada Inc., at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association conference in Hamilton.

"But at the end of the day, that decision is made in Japan and by our shareholders."

Public incentives are now commonly used throughout North America to attract factories, with governments trading millions of dollars in subsidies for factories that create jobs and boost tax revenues.

Provincial officials will not specify what they might contribute to the project, though sources have suggested federal support had been lagging behind Ontario commitments.

At the conference in Hamilton, Ontario Economic Development and Trade Minister Joe Cordiano said there's $165 million remaining in Ontario's five-year, $500-million auto investment fund. General Motors and Ford are among those who have been allocated funds from that plan, which helps cover research and training costs for projects that will create at least 300 jobs.

A new Toyota plant would easily employ at least triple that amount but Cordiano wouldn't discuss specifics of any proposals. The minister made a recent trip to Japan where he met with officials from Toyota, as well as Nissan, which has said it might build its first Canadian plant if its sales in the country improve.

"We are getting attention from around the world, and I can tell you there are expressions of interest - I won't go into details - but there are expressions of interests from other (automakers) in other countries," Cordiano said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ontario angles for Toyota

JOE BELANGER, Free Press Reporter 2005-05-23 02:06:50



Ontario is "working very hard" to secure a proposed new Toyota assembly plant, says London West MPP and Ontario Labour Minister Chris Bentley.

But Bentley yesterday refused to disclose details of the province's efforts in the wake of the federal government's promise of $55 million to help secure the factory.

Bentley said Premier Dalton McGuinty and Economic Development and Trade Minister Joseph Cordiano "are working hard" on the issue.

Two weeks ago, Cordiano was part of a team of politicians and top auto industry players who visited Japan in hopes of promoting the province to Toyota officials.

"I think beyond that, it would be imprudent to speculate," Bentley said.

"But we're there at the table talking and . . . I've heard nothing negative from our end. So, we're all very, very hopeful. I think it would be imprudent to comment beyond that."

Elgin-Middlesex-London Liberal MPP Steve Peters said he would love to see the Toyota plant come to Oxford.

Besides investing in agriculture and education, the government has identified automotive as a key sector, he said.

"We recognize the value of making investments," Peters said.

Ontario's hopes of landing the new assembly plant were bolstered after it was learned the federal cabinet had approved a funding package.

Incentives from both senior governments are considered crucial to getting the Japanese automaker to build its next factory in Woodstock.

The factory, which sources say could open in the spring of 2007, would employ more than 1,000 workers and industry estimates suggest spinoff jobs from an auto assembly plant could be as much as 10 to one.

Toyota already has an assembly complex in Cambridge and is looking to build its seventh North American plant as sales increase.

The Woodstock proposal will be presented to Toyota's board late next month in Tokyo.

Bentley said it's unlikely the province will tip its hand until Toyota makes its decision.

But he pointed to his Liberal government's willingness to assist automakers, such as recent funding announcements for General Motors in Windsor and Ford in Oakville.

Ontario is competing against U.S. states, including Alabama, Michigan and Missouri.

Copyright © The London Free Press
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Toyota plant deal at risk

The Blandford Square Mall owner holds out for more money and threatens court action.
NORMAN DE BONO, Free Press Business Reporter 2005-05-25 02:49:09


A move by Oxford County to seize a mall to make way for a Toyota plant would be fought in court, its owners say, which would threaten the county's chances of landing the automotive assembly plant.

Oxford County council has approved a motion to expropriate land in Blandford Blenheim Township if needed to pave the way for industrial development.

The Blandford Square Mall's owners and an adjacent golf course are the only holdouts among the group of property owners in the area.

Though negotiations are going well with the golf course, the mall and county remain far apart.

Mall owner Joe Chetti of First Summit in Toronto said yesterday if the county does not pay him the asking price, he will fight expropriation in court -- a move that will tie up the land deal indefinitely.

"Any move to delay the deal would make prospective clients very nervous. This could affect the deal," Oxford County Warden Don Woolcott said yesterday.

"He could drag it out if he wanted to."

Chetti is asking $16.5 million for the mall. The county initially offered $2 million but has since "slightly" increased that offer, Chetti added.

"They can approve expropriation if they like, but I will fight them. I don't want this to end up in court, but if it does, it does," Chetti said.

"The mortgagees (on the mall) have deep pockets. If they want to fight, they will fight," Chetti said.

The county is assembling a 400-hectare parcel of land in the township for industrial development. It is believed to be the leading site for a $600-million Toyota assembly plant that would employ 1,500 to 2,000 people.

"It does not make planning sense to have that mall there. We would like the whole property. It is key," Woolcott said.

"Having this put together would make any presentation so much more solid. We could say, 'Yes, we have this, it is available, there are no encumbrances on it.' "

Locating the plant in Oxford County is believed to be on the agenda at Toyota Motor Corp.'s board of directors meeting in Japan next month.

"It would be excellent to have this tied up before the board of directors meeting. We do not want an asterisk beside our name," Woolcott said.

The county would like the land deals completed by mid-June, he added.

"We need to demonstrate to a client we have the land, we cannot wait any longer. We have to move quickly."

The mall, north of Highway 401 at the intersection of Highway 2 and County Road 4, sits on about 40 hectares of land.

It contains a furniture store, restaurant, Liquidation World store, government office and dance studio. A vacant Wal-Mart store is under lease for another year and the retailer is paying for the space.

"It is ridiculous. I want to close this deal, too, just tell them to write a cheque," Chetti said.

"We are far apart at the moment. I hope we come to a conclusion. We have always been co-operative, we want to accommodate people, but I need to make the numbers work. I hope they come to their senses. I have a mortgage on this I have to pay."


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