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Is Titan Now Willing to Fly French Flag?

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Just eight short months ago Morry Taylor wanted nothing to do with France or French workers. “The French work force,” the chairman and CEO of Titan International famously said, “gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They have one hour for their breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three.”

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That set off a bit of a firestorm with the French government, particularly industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, who had reached out to Taylor in an effort to preserve jobs at Goodyear’s plant in Amiens, France, which was slated to be completely shuttered, leaving some 1,200 without jobs.

That appeared to be the end of it, but now word comes that Taylor has been quietly negotiating to buy at least part of the former Goodyear tire plant, saving around 300 of those jobs.

Titan is mum on the situation, but separate Wall Street Journal and Reuters reports say that Montebourg has had face-to-face meetings with Taylor and that a tentative offer is on the table. "I have met Maurice Taylor, who had had very unpleasant comments about France. He is offering to save 333 jobs out of 1,200," Montebourg told Le Parisien newspaper on Tuesday. "He guarantees that jobs will be preserved for four years.

“This offer would help preserve an industrial tool,” Montebourg was quoted as saying. “On top of that, it allows France to demonstrate its attractiveness, its competitiveness and its performance.”

Titan claims it had considered taking the plant last fall, but pulled out of out of negotiations in September 2012, citing a “heavy social climate” in France. When Goodyear put the final nail in the plant’s coffin, Montebourg approached Taylor again, but the Titan chief rebuffed his advances – quite loudly and publicly.

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