PARIS -- A U.S. CEO who once mocked French workers as lazy and overpaid has offered to partially take over a troubled French tire plant, France's industry minister said Monday.
Titan International chief executive Maurice Taylor initially ridiculed the idea of taking over the loss-making Goodyear tire plant in Amiens, in northern France.
But Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg said that Taylor had now made an offer to take over part of the factory that produces tires for farming vehicles.
The offer applies to "333 jobs at the Amiens site which would be guaranteed for four years," Montebourg said.
Titan is ready to invest "about $100 million, including a minimum of $40 million at the site," he said.
Taylor caused widespread indignation in France when he wrote a letter to Montebourg earlier this year refusing to consider investing in the Goodyear plant.
"The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours" a day, Taylor wrote in the letter.
Montebourg at the time denounced the comments as "extremist insults" and ordered increased customs checks on Titan's tires.
Reached by telephone, Taylor refused to confirm the offer.
"I'm not aware of anything in relation to your country of great wine and beautiful women," he said.
"I know Goodyear is going through their plans and I know that they just announced a week ago the nomination of a new president of Goodyear Europe," he added.
Goodyear has said it is being forced to close the plant, which employs about 1,200 people, after unions repeatedly rejected efforts to cut costs.
The partial Titan takeover is conditional on Goodyear being able to impose its cost-cutting plans, which are opposed in a number of legal actions.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013