The authorized restoration of Valdunes, image of the decay of the outdated trade in France | EUROtoday

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Demonstration of employees of the industrial company Valdunes, mobilized against the closure of their factory, during Emmanuel Macron's visit to Dunkirk (North), May 12, 2023.

The Lille industrial courtroom positioned Valdunes, the final French producer of wheels and axles for the railway sector, into receivership on Monday November 20. Owned by the Chinese group MA Steel, the corporate has two websites within the Nord division: that of Leffrinckoucke, close to Dunkirk, the place the wheels are solid and that of Trith-Saint-Léger, in Valenciennois, the place they’re processed thermally and machined.

The decline of Valdunes, a European chief within the sector on the finish of the Nineties, has worsened over time. Indebted to the tune of 21 million euros, the group would, in response to Roland Lescure, the delegate minister chargeable for trade, “sufficient cash flow to continue its activity until March 2024”. The matter is being adopted very intently at Bercy, the place conferences and spherical tables have taken place in latest months to attempt to get the industrialist out of the rut and, above all, to discover a purchaser after MA Steel gave up in May .

The undertaking led by the CGT to create an Alstom-SNCF consortium has actually been checked out however “SNCF is not an industrialist”, observes Roland Lescure “and Alstom’s vocation is not to become a wheel seller”, provides the minister, who says he doesn’t despair of discovering ” A [partenaire] with a business plan that holds up, not a bounty hunter”.

Read additionally: Article reserved for our subscribers Valdunes, abandoned by its Chinese shareholder, is still looking for a buyer

Today, the expressions of interest for a takeover do not concern the two northern sites, whose activities are linked. To resume one without the other is “unimaginable” for Maxime Savaux, the leader of the CGT of Valdunes. The trade unionist especially fears a takeover by a European competitor “who would only be interested in our order books and our machines”. For him, MA Steel is “entirely responsible for the situation. He did not invest in us”, a point of view that Bercy tempers, recalling that the Chinese giant has nevertheless paid off debts for ten years (i.e. 150 million euros) and committed 30 million euros over this decade. But this is nothing compared to the investments made at the same time by Valdunes’ competitors (20 million per year, on average).

Bercy and local elected officials mobilized

The SNCF, which purchased around 50,000 wheels per year from Valdunes, now only acquires 30,000, sourcing from elsewhere in Europe – the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Germany. ” Even if [elle] purchased all his wheels in Valdunes, that wouldn’t be sufficient,” observes Olivier Rémy, who advises Roland Lescure on restructuring information. To save the corporate, “we would have to increase production to 80,000 wheels per year and seek out export markets”, he specifies. And additionally put money into 65 million euros to improve the 2 websites.

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