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France urges Bridgestone to weigh options for factory under threat

PARIS (Reuters) - France urged Japan's Bridgestone 5108.T on Wednesday to look into alternative options for a French tyre factory it plans to close, saying the company was largely to blame for the situation.

Bridgestone announced earlier in the day that it would begin talks to close the factory in the northern city of Bethune, in the face of low demand for its main product, low-profile tyres..

With 863 employees, the factory has daily production capacity of about 17,000 tyres.

In a joint statement, French Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne and junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said they totally disagreed with Bridgestone’s closure plans, calling them “brutal” and “groundless”.

Bridgestone had “largely disinvested from the Bethune plant for many years, to the benefit of its other European plants,” they said.

This move had left the plant mechanically less competitive, besides allocating it low-margin products in a continuously declining market, they added.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Louise Heavens and Clarence Fernandez

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