France Threatens To Blacklist U.S. Auto Supplier

PARIS (AP) -- A French minister on Wednesday threatened to ask French automakers to blacklist an American electronics company if managers don't find a way to keep its French plant open.

Industry Minister Christian Estrosi has been trying to broker a deal with executives of Illinois-based Molex Inc., an electronic components maker. The company temporarily shut down its plant in southern France on Aug. 5 after charging that workers angry about the planned closure of the plant had injured an American manager and two security guards.

Workers said they had only thrown eggs at the manager, Eric Doesburg, and that he was not injured.

Estrosi denounced the "particularly unconstructive" attitude of American managers, who he said are the "only obstacle" to reopening the plant and keeping its 283 workers in jobs.

His office said in a statement that the French government is willing to finance the sale of the plant, and Estrosi has told Doesburg that Molex should agree terms with the potential buyer by the start of next week.

"Any other attitude on the part of Molex would be inadmissible for the French government, which would draw all the conclusions, notably by officially asking French automakers to immediately suspend all orders for material including products made by the Molex group," Estrosi's office said.

Marcus Kerriou, a human resources manager for Molex Europe, said he was "surprised" and "astonished" by Estrosi's reaction.

He said talks with an unnamed buyer have begun, and a meeting is set for Friday. Molex is prepared to sell its machines, but wants to keep its products and clients, he said.

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