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'Extremist' US CEO 'bids to save French factory'
US CEO of Titan Maurine Taylor (left) and French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

'Extremist' US CEO 'bids to save French factory'

Published on: 21 Oct 2013 17:18 CET

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Almost eight months after an extraordinary bust-up that saw Maurice Taylor, the CEO of US tyre giant Titan and France’s Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg embroiled in a slanging match, it appears the pair have buried the hatchet.

Taylor made headlines around the world in February when, in response to a plea from Montebourg to invest in a failing Goodyear tyre plant in Amiens, he responded in a letter to the minister: "How stupid do you think we are?"

But it appears relations may have thawed and Taylor has had a change of heart, or that's according to the French minister anyway.

Montebourg announced on Monday that Titan has now made an offer to invest in the doomed Goodyear factory, which he believes will guarantee just over jobs at the factory for four years.

The French minister, who previously warned Taylor that he was "not the right person to cross swords with” said Titan will invest around $100 million, at least $40 million at the Amiens factory. 

According to the French press the investment would only come into effect if the planned redundancies are carried out.

There has been no confirmation of this offer by Titan bosses however.

Goodyear said in January it was set to close the plant, which employs 1,173 workers, following five years of failed talks with unions.

The apparent new bid, comes a year after Titan had made a similar offer to invest in Goodyear before eventually withdrawing it, Le Parisien reports on Monday. It was then that relations soured and Taylor wrote his infamous letter in which he mocked French workers for only putting in "three-hours a day work, and talkin for four".

That war of words continued for some weeks with Montebourg calling Taylor "extremist";

CGT union chief Michael Wamen also said Taylor's letter "shows that this CEO, of a multinational company, is more suited to being in a psychiatric hospital than leading a company like this."

Referring to that letter on Monday, Montebourg said he had made it clear to Taylor that the letter “was extremely detrimental to France and that I did not appreciate that he spoke ill of people who only want to work.”

But he said Titan's bid was "solid".

Ben McPartland(ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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