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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Moulinex files for bankruptcy
Moulinex-Brandt workers
Workers protest against factory closures
The French-Italian domestic appliance maker Moulinex-Brandt has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company had been trying to organise a refinancing package but the attempt failed.

It reported "colossal" losses earlier this year and in April announced a restructuring plan which involved cutting 4,000 jobs.

Moulinex merged with the German company Brandt last year and the group makes a wide range of domestic goods including food processors, microwave ovens and washing machines.

On Thursday the company's shares fell 18% on the Paris Stock Exchange before they were suspended.

Proud history

Moulinex became a household name through its kitchen blenders and appliances - the first of which it launched in 1932.

It also enjoyed great success in the US when it began making microwave ovens in the 1980s.

But the company was hit hard by the emerging market crises in Asia and Russia, which caused sales to plummet and competitors to cut prices aggressively.

The company has only made a profit twice in the past 10 years and its debt levels are estimated to be about 766m euros (472m).

In December last year Moulinex merged with El.Fi, the Italian company which owned the Brandt household appliance brand.

The Italian family run business owns a 74.3% majority stake in the company.

In April this year it announced a restructuring plan including closing factories in France, Brazil and Ireland, and cut 4,000 jobs.

Shareholder blamed

The decision to file for bankruptcy protection was blamed on the company's main shareholder by Moulinex's chairman Patrick Puy.

"The banks' contribution was ready. It would have required the shareholder to play its role. I am sorry to say that it did not want to fulfil its obligations, this is a pity," he said.

"To pull off these negotiations we would have needed the understanding from trade unions and of the government and politicians. We had this," he added.

See also:

24 Apr 01 | Europe
France tightens employment laws
09 Apr 01 | Business
French court rules against M&S
06 Apr 01 | Europe
French unions stage M&S protest
28 Feb 01 | Business
French jobless hits 10-year low
26 Apr 01 | Business
Moulinex shake-up costs 4,000 jobs
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