QUINCY, Ill. (Oct. 31, 2013) — Titan International Inc. is still interested in taking over Goodyear's farm tire plant in Amiens, France, but it can't proceed with discussions there until the union at the plant and Goodyear agree to terms on Goodyear's plan to close the factory, Chairman Maurice Taylor Jr. told financial analysts in a conference call Oct. 29.
Mr. Taylor made his remarks in response to a question about recent European media reports that Titan had reopened discussions there. Titan has agreed to buy Goodyear's European farm tire business in 2009, but the deal lapsed in late 2011 when Goodyear couldn't get workers at the plant to agree to terms for phasing out passenger tire production production.
Mr. Taylor said he met in August with French Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg, but he said he told the minister that French law prevents Titan from dealing with the CGT union until it has resolved its issues with Goodyear.
"…(the) situation is that it's not our plant, it's not our workers," Mr. Taylor said he told Mr. Montebourg. "They're part of the CGT…. I'm not talking to the CGT until you've arranged that they and Goodyear, at least coming to some sort of a tentative agreement.
"And then if Goodyear brings us into it," he continued, "then fine."
Mr. Taylor went on to say that if Mr. Montebourg could facilitate a deal between Goodyear and the CGT, Titan would be interested in revisiting the possibility of taking over the Amiens plant, and with it Goodyear's European farm tire business.
"…(W)e came to our agreement (in 2009) with mother Goodyear, and we can brush that off real quick," Mr. Taylor said, "and it fits with what we're doing in Russia, and it fits everything."
At that point, Mr. Taylor said Mr. Montebourg—with whom Mr. Taylor had a spirited exchange of opinons earlier this year—told him to be prepared to come back to France and toast the deal with a glass of French wine in front of the French media.
Mr. Taylor also said Mr. Montebourg pressed him about how many workers Titan might employ should a deal be concluded. Mr. Taylor said he told the French minister it would take at least 333 to operate farm tire manufacturing at the Amiens plant.