French court rejects Petit Couronne refinery bids, orders plant liquidation


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 Petroplus.

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 details.

Dow Jones Newswires

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