Business Briefs: Nokian Tyres planning to reopen Dayton, Tennessee, factory on May 4

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Brennan Manley, a tire building machine operator, works a machine during the grand opening event for the Nokian Tyres production plant Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 in Dayton, Tennessee. The plant will employ 400 people.

Nokian Tyres plans to reopen its Dayton, Tennessee, factory on Monday, May 4, with some employees returning next Monday.

The company said it will launch a phased reopening process after closely monitoring local and federal guidelines and in light of recent actions taken by the state to begin reopening the economy. Nokian's action marks the conclusion of a shutdown that began March 27.

Nokian Tyres manufactures supplies that are vital to the transportation industry, which has been deemed essential by state and federal governments. Given the importance of that industry and out of a desire to provide stability for employees, the company said it's important to reopen the factory.

Nokian said it will continue taking aggressive steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the factory.

EPB to buy site near Volkswagen Chattanooga plant

EPB directors voted Friday to pay just over $1.1 million, or $65,000 an acre, to buy a 17-acre site near the Volkswagen assembly plant at 7362 Volkswagen Drive to relocate the utility's operations center from downtown Chattanooga.

EPB plans to begin work next year on the new support facility, which will replace and expand the operations center located since 2010 at the former Cavalier site under the M.L. King bridge off of Central Avenue.

"We are literally running out of space (at the former Cavalier site) and in looking to expand it became pretty obvious that we needed to have a good portion of our equipment and facilities more on the eastern part of town to better serve our entire region," EPB President David Wade told the Electric Power Board Friday.

EPB Chief Financial Officer Greg Eaves has previously estimated it will cost about $8 million to erect a new facility to house EPB trucks, poles, spools, transformers, tools and other equipment used to build and maintain EPB's 600-square-mile electric and fiber optic network.

Shareholders OK First Horizon merger

Shareholders of First Horizon National Corp., the parent company of the biggest bank in both Chattanooga and all of Tennessee, have approved the previously announced $3.9 billion merger with Iberiabank Corp., the parent company of Louisiana's biggest bank.

Upon completion of the transaction expected later this spring, the combined bank will be one of the largest in the South and among the top 25 banks in the U.S. with $57 billion in deposits.

"As a combined company, we will have an expansive 11-state reach in high-growth, attractive markets across our combined footprint," Bryan Jordan, chairman and CEO of First Horizon, said Friday. "When we complete the integration of our company in 2021, we will be better positioned to deliver the innovative products and technology our customers have come to expect from us."

France, Denmark bail out airlines

The French and Dutch governments announced at least $9.7 billion in bailout money Friday to rescue Air France and KLM, whose planes have been largely grounded by virus lockdowns around the world.

The partner airlines had been in negotiations for weeks with their respective governments, as carriers worldwide are collapsing or seeking government bailouts. The past several weeks of travel restrictions have upended the entire industry, and Air France and KLM said earlier this month that they expect their joint traffic to be down more than 90% in the coming months.