By Alex Kapadia
The company intending to buy the doomed Continental tyres factory in France is eager to press ahead, despite initial problems over terms.
The Syrian-owned MAG group plans to start due diligence to buy the strike-hit plant in Clairoix, but the major points of disagreement so far include price and technology transfer.
Fawaz Sabri, vice chairman for strategy and finance for MAG, told Reuters news agency: “’We sent yesterday (Tuesday) an amended version of the letter of intent and are awaiting their response.
“We have put everything down and all our concerns.”
MAG has been holding talks with Germany-based Continental since May about the plant, which has been at the centre of a high-profile industrial dispute.
Continental said in March it would close the plant, as well as a site in Hanover, due to the global economic downturn.
Clairoix workers have staged a series of protests to fight the closure, which would eliminate 1,120 jobs. They have hurled insults and eggs at managers, burnt tyres on the streets of Paris and trashed two buildings.
Alexander Luehrs, a Continental spokesman said: “Negotiations were ongoing, but (there was) no solution yet.”
He was quoted by Abu Dhabi newspaper The National as saying it was not easy to just sell the plant with machines and technology that could make MAG a direct competitor.
Mr Luehrs said: ‘It has taken us a long time to arrive where we are,’ he said. ‘MAG has no experience in producing tyres, so they need the basic know-how. Of course we won’t sell our most precious asset.”
While Mr Sabri said MAG had concerns over fixing a price before due diligence was completed and could not accept responsibility over the plant’s environmental issues prior to assessing the factory.