By INTI LANDAURO
PARIS -- A French court on Tuesday ordered the liquidation of
the refinery located in northern town
Petit Couronne after rejecting takeover bids, said a
spokeswoman at the court of Rouen in Normandy.
The plant was part of insolvent Swiss-based oil refiner
The court ordered the plant to keep operating
for two months and set an additional deadline on Nov. 5 for
companies interested in bidding for the assets under
liquidation, the spokeswoman said.
Nicolas Vincent, a leader of the refinery's labor union, said the
decision is absurd.
Petroplus, which operated five refineries in
Europe, filed for insolvency at the beginning of the year.
Since then, three refineries were sold and one has been
converted into a fuel terminal.
Petroplus ran out of cash in late January after struggling for
months with weak demand due to the economic slowdown in Europe
and overcapacity amid tighter credit conditions, high crude
prices and competition from Asia and the Middle East.
The French government, which wanted to keep
the refinery in operation in a bid to protect jobs, brokered an
agreement with Royal Dutch Shell, which committed to buy
refined products from the plant for six months.
Independent refiners made offers to take over
the refinery, but the court rejected
these bids, the spokeswoman said, declining to provide further
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