French Arjo paper mill put up for auction

Rhys Handley
Thursday, July 11, 2019

Auction procedures for one of Arjowiggins’ French sites have begun while the sale of its UK sites remains unconfirmed.

Le Parisien reported that the Commercial Court of Nanterre opened proceedings yesterday (10 July) on the sale of the paper manufacturer’s factory in Jouy-sur-Morin, the closure of which in January put 238 people out of work.

Representations for two potential takeover plans were heard, one led by Patrice Schaafs of the CGT union, who is seeking aid from the French public investment bank, and another led by former Arjo employee Arnaud Gravey with the backing of private investors.

The magistrate did not pronounce in favour of either party and told the bidders that the procedures for the auction of the site’s assets would begin, though sales would not happen until October.

Over the next three months, the court is open to hearing representations from potential buyers of the plant, which specialised in the production of secure paper for bank notes and identity documents.

Schaafs and Gravey were told that they could still make takeover bids if the proposed value was equal to or more than the estimated value of assets.

While Arjo’s largest French plant in Bessé-sur-Braye was closed in May after a takeover bid by former director Jean-Christophe Mailhan failed, an attempt at an MBO of the Fine Papers mills in Stoneywood near Aberdeen and Chartham near Canterbury is still underway.

Though Unite the Union confirmed its support for the MBO team, which includes Stoneywood mill manager Angus MacSween with support from Scottish Enterprise, a representative for the appointed administrators FRP Advisory confirmed to PrintWeek that there was no update on proceedings at this time.

Stoneywood employs 489 staff while 90 people work at Chartham. Both mills were put into administration in January alongside a sales office in Basingstoke with 28 staff.

Arjowiggins’ parent company Sequana, which was put into liquidation by the Commercial Court of Nanterre on 15 May, has now announced that it will no longer be responding to communications from shareholders at its dedicated line and email address. It has requested that the suspension of its trading on the French stock market be maintained.


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