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ABB, Adidas Retrench in Egypt as Protesters Gather for 8th Day

Demonstrators Gather Around an Army Tank
Egyptian soldiers address protesters gathered around a tank in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Sunday. Photographer: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

ABB Ltd., Adidas AG and German carmakers including BMW AG continued to retrench operations in Egypt as protesters urged a million people to take to the streets today and force President Hosni Mubarak from office.

ABB, the world’s largest maker of power-transmission gear, closed its factories. Adidas, the second-largest producer of sporting goods, evacuated foreign employees and told local workers to stay home. Coca-Cola Co. shut its Cairo office. BMW extended a stoppage at its plant, while Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG continued a suspension of production and deliveries.

“The factories will remain closed, and we are monitoring the situation by the hour,” said Thomas Schmidt, a spokesman for Zurich-based ABB, which generates about $300 million in revenue and has 1,600 local employees in Egypt. “We have recorded no damage to our facilities and none of our employees have been harmed,” he said by telephone.

Demonstrators, who are staging an eighth day of protests, say they want to end corruption and improve living standards and job creation in the nation of 80 million people. The uprising has left more than 100 people dead.

Mubarak and newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman have offered talks with opposition groups in a bid to end the unrest. The military, which has tightened its grip on the regime in the past week with the appointment of former generals as vice president and prime minister, promised on state television not to fire on protesters and said that it recognized “the legitimacy of the people’s demands.”

M&S, Adidas, TUI

Marks & Spencer Group Plc said yesterday it closed its only store in a shopping mall on the outskirts of Cairo to ensure the safety of workers who may have to travel through the unrest.

The outlet of the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer has been closed since Friday, spokeswoman Clare Wilkes said by phone in London. The store has not been directly affected, she said. Germany’s Metro AG said yesterday two of its stores had been looted after protesters defied a curfew.

Adidas evacuated its five expatriated employees from Egypt on Jan. 29, Katja Schreiber, a spokeswoman for Adidas, based in Herzogenaurach, southern Germany, said by e-mail.

TUI Travel Plc, Europe’s largest tour operator, said about 40 percent of planned departures from Germany to Egypt were changed or annulled yesterday after it let vacationers cancel their bookings or change destinations without paying a penalty.

Israeli Exporter

Israeli apparel manufacturer Delta-Galil Industries Ltd.’s factory in Egypt, which employs some 2,500 workers, is closed due to the government-imposed curfew, spokesman Dror Shavit said in a telephone interview. The Delta-Galil plant is located north of Cairo in one of the so-called Qualifying Industrial Zones that allows Egyptian companies to export goods to the U.S. duty-free if they have an Israeli component.

Henkel AG, the German maker of Persil detergent, halted its washing-powder production in Egypt and evacuated some expatriate workers. Henkel also told the 850 local workers at its factory in Port Said to remain at home because of security concerns, Lars Witteck, a spokesman for the Dusseldorf, Germany-based company, said by phone today.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, closed its office in Cairo and won’t reopen until security improves, spokesman Kenth Kaerhoeg said yesterday. He declined to say how many employees the world’s largest soft-drink maker has in Egypt.

Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Inc., the biggest snack maker, is helping employees who aren’t residents of Egypt relocate to their home countries as soon as possible.

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