Siemens to pour funds for insolvent BenQ units

Siemens agreed to provide more help for workers at the insolvent German mobile phone unit of Taiwan's BenQ, but dismissed as exaggerated a labor union claim that the aid was worth 180 million euros ($230 million), an Associated Press report said.

Siemens, the Munich-based technology and engineering conglomerate, passed its ailing handset business to BenQ in 2005 and said it expected the Taiwanese company to turn it around, the Associated Press report said.

However, BenQ Mobile filed for insolvency protection in September, the report said.

After German politicians and labor unions pressed it to help, Siemens established a 35 million euro ($45 million) fund to support the unit's 3,000 workers and help them find new jobs, the report said.

Siemens personnel chief Juergen Radomski said that it had now agreed also to fund through 2007 an employment agency designed to find other work for BenQ staff. He said it would also 'find ways to ease social hardship' of those still jobless in 2008, the report said.

The company didn't say how much it expected the measures would cost. However, it denied a claim from labor union IG Metall that the package was worth up to 180 million euros ($233 million), the report said.

That estimate was 'not at all serious and much too high,' Siemens spokesman Marc Langendorf said.

He said Siemens had now pledged a total of 71 million euros ($92 million) and that it was unclear if it would inject more funds. Germany's Federal Labor Agency and state governments are also contributing, he said.