towards a third legal recovery in ten years

And three! For the third time in ten years, the Ascometal group should find itself, on Wednesday March 27, plunged into receivership. Except that, this time, at the head office in Hagondange (Moselle), near Metz, no one saw it coming. Because if the desire to disengage from the owner, the Swiss Swiss Steel, is known to everyone, the group was in very advanced talks with the Italian steelmaker Venete. “We are stunned. For us, it was done. Venete had been at our premises for months. We had the business plan, which provided for ambitious investments. There, we find ourselves with nothing left from one day to the next”explains a disappointed CGT union delegate, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Venete was only to take over the group’s automotive cluster, namely Ascometal Hagondange (around 450 employees and 100 temporary workers), Ascometal Marcus (in Custines, in Meurthe-et-Moselle, near Nancy, 70 employees and Ascometal Le Marais, in Saint- Etienne, also 70 employees) and Ascometal France Holding, the head office and its research center, also in Hagondange (100 employees).

Buyers are being sought for the Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône, around 360 employees) and Dunes sites, in Dunkirk (North, around 170 employees).

“Deterioration of the economic situation”

The news of this legal recovery was announced by the management of Ascometal, Monday March 25, to the elected staff of the social and economic committee (CSE), during an extraordinary meeting. This has caused serious concern on the Moselle site, which works 90% for the automobile industry, of which it constitutes one of the essential links in the European market, with its excellent products. Contacted, the communications department of Swiss Steel did not respond to our requests on Tuesday March 26.

According to the CGT, the reasons for this failure cited by management are multiple, but are mainly due to “to a deterioration in the economic situation since the start of the year”. “The agreement signed between Swiss Steel and Venete in December [2023], included a number of commitments regarding inventory levels and working capital requirements. As these conditions were no longer met, it would have been necessary to inject several million euros to finalize the agreement. Given that neither our shareholder nor our takeover candidate were willing to do so, judicial recovery appears to be the only remaining option,” declares the union.

Management announced to elected staff members that it would send, as of Tuesday, a request for judicial recovery to the Strasbourg commercial court. A hearing is already scheduled for Wednesday March 27. The length of the observation period will depend on the company’s cash flow level. According to the CGT, this would make it possible to hold out until July.

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