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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
US firm pulls out of steel plant
A US steel giant is stopping production of steel tubes at its Leicestershire plant putting 400 jobs under threat.

US engineering firm Timken said it is pulling out of its seamless steel tube-making operation plant at Desford, near Leicester.

The firm said it was seeking "alternative solutions to closure".

Timkin spokesman Jeff Dafler said the business will look for an alternative source for its steel tubes after being hit by "spiralling fuel bills".

'Not profitable'

Timken said the facility generated between 46m and 51m in sales each year, but is not profitable.

The company, which has similar factories in the US but none in Europe, supplies the ultra strong tubes for use in the car industry.

Company president Salvatore Miraglia Jr said: "The proposed action is part of the company's strategy to focus on lines of business that produce differentiated products while driving profitable growth."

Timken also runs a rail bearings factory in Northampton and an aerospace plant in Wolverhampton, as well as facilities in Coventry and Sheffield.

Meeting with unions

The decision to stop production at Desford will not affect jobs at the other UK sites, the firm said.

The company is due to meet with trade union officials soon to discuss the announcement.

Around 3,800 people live in Desford, which is situated between Leicester and Hinckley.

Timken produces bearings, alloy steels and related products in 27 countries with sales of $5.2bn in 2005 and employs 27,000 people.

The firm plans to sell some portion of the plant's assets and secure a reliable alternative source of steel tube for its European bearing operations.

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