May 20, 2020 / 2:18 PM / 16 days ago

France wants Renault to maintain its French plants

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attends a parliamentary session in Paris, France, May 19 2020. Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government will insist on preserving Renault (RENA.PA) production plants in France and wants it to remain the carmaker’s global centre for engineering, research, innovation and development, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Wednesday.

Speaking in the Senate, he said the government was particularly concerned about maintaining the Flins plant, northwest of Paris.

At the end of May, Renault plans to outline 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) of spending cuts over the next three years after booking its first loss in a decade last year.

French financial daily Les Echos has reported that Renault is considering closing three of its French sites, including an assembly plant in Dieppe, and that it would stop making cars in Flins.

Renault board chairman Jean-Dominique Senard and interim CEO Clotilde Delbos are set to meet with unions on Monday to discuss the plan, which was announced in February.

At the time, Delbos said there would be no taboos, which led to union worries about job cuts.

But with the French state as its largest shareholder and a five billion euro bank loan guaranteed by the state set to help it cope with the coronavirus outbreak, Renault has relatively limited scope for job cuts in France.

Reporting by Marine Penntier and Gilles Guillaume; Writing by GV De Clercq; Editing by Jan Harvey, Kirsten Donovan

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