By Denna Bowman
Talks have collapsed into the take-over of the doomed Continental tyres plant in Clairoix, northern France.
The sale of the factory was a last-ditch attempt to keep the factory open and secure the future of the 1,120-strong workforce.
However, the German tyres manufacturer and the Dubai-based investor MAG failed to reach any agreement in the early-stage talks.
Bernhard Trilken, senior vice president responsible for global passenger car and light truck tyre production for Continental, said yesterday: “It was not possible to enter into concrete negotiations on the basis of jointly defined framework conditions.
“The two parties reached the same conclusion and, at that point, agreed to terminate the sales talks.”
The Clairoix plant witnessed some of the most virulent worker reaction to restructuring in the European auto industry, with angry employees trashing two of the plant’s buildings and setting fire to tyres in front of the Paris bourse in protest.
Workers had questioned whether management wanted to close the plant to take 8 million units of tyre capacity out of the European market.
“Naturally we would have liked to reach a solution in view of the workforce and we worked very seriously on a letter of intent that we then proposed,” a spokesman for Continental’s tyre operations said.
Unions took the news hard.
“We couldn’t believe it. There weren’t even any talks,” CGT union official Xavier Mathieu told Reuters in France.
MAG, an industrial and property group owned by Syrian millionaire Moafaq al-Gaddah, offered in June to buy the plant and had aimed to close a deal by the end of the year.
The price and the fact that MAG could have ended up as direct competitors of Continental appeared to have been the stumbling blocks.