The Luduș sugar plant in danger of being shut down / Unions accuse the French owners of not wanting to sell / Owners say they have no one to sell to
Both employee representatives and sugar beet farmers claim that the French owners do not actually want to sell the factory, but to dismantle it. On the other hand, the management claims they have no one to sell the business to, reports Rador news agency.
Union leader Ioan Trif said there had been three attempts to buy the factory, all rejected by the owners: „There were two foreign companies, and the owners said they did not offer the price asked, and there were also the beet producers who wanted to buy it. The factory is closed and they wanted, since last week Thursday, to start dismantling it and we stopped them. It’ s because they don’t have a definite decision on what actually happens with the plant. And when they heard what we wanted to do, they stopped everything. Because on the 8th or 9th of April the Minister of Agriculture is coming to our plant. It’s about 160 employees, we are paid by the company at 75% until finalization. So they can’t fire us until the lay-offs begin, which they say will be in the months of June or July”.
There is only one sugar processing plant left in Romania, in Roman, for which farmers in Mures still grow sugar beet.
Istrate Dorel, president of the Luduș sugar beet growers’ association ,,BETA” believes that the intervention of the minister for agriculture is too late: „We notified the beet federation, the federation notified the ministry, but things have been slowed down. We intended to buy the factory, because we made a cooperative of bigger producers, and we tried to go to the sugar plant to tell us the selling price or what they want to do. We found that they are not interested in selling the factory, they are interested in keeping us just as a market. I am no longer optimistic that anything will change after the minister’s visit.”
The French owner of the Tereos group, which owns the sugar plant in Luduș, Francois Queva, says there was one attempt to buy the factory, by a group of Romanian growers, who eventually gave up. He revealed that procedures to close the factory are underway: „Our group has announced its intention to close the factory and there is a plan underway. We tried to sell it last year, there was no one to buy it. A group of growers contacted us on 20 December. We received their representative twice, then in a two-sentence email he confirmed, if I’m not mistaken on 15 or 18 January, that he was withdrawing and had no mandate, and since then no one has contacted us.”
The closure of the Luduș sugar plant was announced last year, the French owners said they wanted to sell it because with the liberalisation of the sugar price in 2017, the plant is running at a loss.
Ileana Gușatu, deputy director of the Mures Agricultural Directorate, confirms the presence later this week of Agriculture Minister Adrian Chesnoiu in Mures county, and hopes to save the factory as a last resort:
„I submitted a briefing to the Minister, in which I presented the situation of the plant. The owner didn’t want to sell the sugar plant and didn’t put it up for auction, didn’t make any sale announcement, because he didn’t want to have competition. He prefers to take the good machines to his factories in the Czech Republic, scrap the others and sell the stainless steel, which is so expensive. The minister has been on all the airwaves and said he is in talks with the French agriculture minister to somehow negotiate this situation and help us put the factory up for auction.”
According to the mayor of Luduș, Ioan Cristian Moldovan, there are 25 hectares in the area of the sugar factory that will be put up for sale by the owners after the demolition of the buildings, as the land is intended exclusively for industrial, not residential or commercial use.
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