BRATISLAVA, May 24 (Reuters) - China's Shandong Linglong Tyre is close to deciding on the site of an expected 500 million euro ($558.70 million) tire plant in central Europe, a partner of the company said on Wednesday.
The company has shortlisted Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland and will make a decision in the coming months, said Radek Grill, owner of Czech online tire seller nejlevnejsipneu.cz, for which Linglong produces tires.
Linglong has been looking to build another site outside of China after opening a $700 million plant in Thailand in 2015.
It widened its search in central Europe to the Czech Republic after talks with Grill, Linglong's president, Wang Feng, said in an interview with Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes on Monday. He said Linglong would choose a site within three months.
The plant, expected to employ 1,500, would supply Linglong's European markets, Grill told Reuters.
The car sector is important to central Europe's economies although worries are starting to bubble over a labour shortage in several markets that is pushing up wages.
Hungary already hosts Hankook Tire and Apollo Tyres while Nexen is expected to launch a plant in the Czech Republic next year. (Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; editing by Jason Neely)