Titan CEO says still hopes to buy part of French Goodyear plant

Reuters

PARIS, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. tyre company TitanInternational still wants to buy part of the Goodyear plant in northern France that has been earmarked forclosure, provided that unions agree, Titan's CEO said in a radiointerview on Friday.

The factory in Amiens makes agricultural and road tyres andemploys 1,200 staff. It belongs to Goodyear France, a subsidiaryof U.S. firm Goodyear which wants to close the plant because itsays the road tyres business is unprofitable.

Titan Chief Executive Maurice Taylor had previouslyexpressed interest in buying the factory, then ditched his planafter visiting the plant and meeting with the union, complainingthe plant was not worth saving and the workforce was lazy.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said this week thatTaylor was reconsidering his position.

"He's a good guy," Taylor said of Montebourg in an interviewwith Europe 1 radio. "Your minister asked me, 'Are you going toinvest, hire? And we agreed... Everyone who knows me knows thatif I make a deal, I keep my word."

Taylor's offer to buy the factory's agricultural tyredivision while abandoning road tyre production resembles hisprevious offer, which would have saved more jobs but wasrejected by the CGT union.

Montebourg still needs to convince the CGT to accept any newdeal, which would save 333 jobs out of 1,200, Taylor said.

"There have still got to be some leaders at the CGT who havea brain," said Taylor, known as "the Grizz" for his gruffmanner.

The CGT said on Wednesday it was ready "to do anythingpossible" to find a solution.

Auto parts suppliers in France have been forced to scaleback operations due to overcapacity in car production anddwindling auto sales.

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