Ford doesn’t want to sell its Bordeaux plant to Punch
Car manufacturer Ford doesn’t want his Bordeaux transmission plant (Ford Aquitaine Industries) to be taken over by Punch, the Belgian company that is already producing gearboxes in a former GM plant near Strassbourg (Punch Powerglide).
Punch was the only available company prepared to take over the factory, reducing the workforce (850 people) by half in the beginning and insisting on a better productivity. Nevertheless, the Punch plan was accepted by the majority of the personnel and fiercely supported by the French authorities, as well local as federal.
The reason why Ford has refused the overtaking is officially because it fears that Punch’s reconversion plan won’t work. “We are not convinced that Dumarey’s plans (the Punch owner) will lead to the necessary security and protection for the workers that we can give them with our extensive social plan”, said a Ford spokesman. So the factory will officially close its doors in August 2019.
Analysts stipulate that Ford is also afraid that if Punch fails, the French legislation foresees that Ford can be held responsible for this, a situation it has already lived with a German acquirer for the same plant which went bankrupt, forcing Ford to take over the factory again.
The reactions on Ford’s decision are very negative. French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has called the Ford decision ‘treason’. He calls upon the American manufacturer to review its decision and give this industrial site near Bordeaux (Blanquefort) another life.
“The Punch proposition is credible and solid”, Le Maire declared recently in the French Senate. The central government and local authorities foresaw a 15 million euro injection to make the acquisition possible.
Also President Macron follows the case. At the time Guido Dumarey bought the GM plant in Strassbourg after the American company had announced its closing, Macron was Minister of Economy. In a later visit of the factory, renamed Punch Powerglide, he praised the acquisition. The factory now employs 1.250 people and produces automatic gearboxes for rear-wheel driven cars of different European manufacturers.
Ford Aquitaine Industries is also a transmission plant, specialized in gearboxes for front-wheel driven cars. The plan of Punch was to broaden its offer with the acquisition and see the PSA group (almost all front-wheel driven cars) becoming one of the new clients for new, compact automatic gearboxes.