Montupet Has No Plans to Leave Bulgaria Over Production Halt

  • Montupet Bulgarian unit's output cut by up to 15% by stoppage
  • Montupet not source of pollution in Bulgaria, Crozet Says

French auto-castings maker Montupet SA fully complies with European Union environment rules and hopes a Bulgarian regulator’s decision to stop one of its production lines over alleged excessive emissions would be reconsidered after municipal elections this month, a company official said.

The environment protection service in Bulgaria’s Danube river city of Rousse ordered Montupet’s plant to immediately stop one of its eight production lines on Sept. 25, a decision the company appealed without success, Didier Crozet, co-executive managing director at Montupet’s Bulgarian unit said in an interview in Sofia on Thursday. The stoppage cut the factory’s output by as much as 15 percent and caused delivery delays to clients such as Audi AG, he said.

“We have invested 240 million lev ($137 million) in the Bulgarian plant and we can’t just run to another place,” Crozet said. “It’s the most modern, we’ve put the best engineering in that plant, and we want to continue. We want to stay in Bulgaria. After the elections a more rational decision can be taken” that will consider Montupet’s evidence that the factory complies with the environmental standards, he said.

Montupet Bulgaria was set up in 2006 and now has annual output capacity or 1.5 million cylinder heads employing 850 workers, according to Crozet. The factory supplies Renault SA, Ford Motor Co., Volvo AB and Volkswagen AG. Its regional competitors include the Nemak SAB unit in Hungary and car-part makers in Turkey. The company plans to invest 8 million euros this year for upgrades, as it has done in previous years, he said.

The company has lost the appeal on the immediate production halt, but still hopes to have the general decision to stop the production line overturned after Oct. 25 city council elections, citing officials’ reluctance to take any decisions shortly before elections, Crozet said.