Saturday, February 23, 2013

Capitalism Exchanges Fire with France

Globalization has transferred a great deal of political power into corporate boardrooms.   And, for some businessmen, it's gone to their heads - guys like Maurice (Morry) "The Grizz" Taylor, CEO of U.S. tire company, Titan.

Morry was in France to check out a faltering tire plant he thought Titan might pick up.   When he was done, Taylor fired off a letter to French industry minister, Arnoud Mountebourg, telling him France could keep its "so called workers."

"The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three," Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter in English addressed to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.

"How stupid do you think we are?" he asked at one point.

"Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France  needs," he said. "You can keep the so-called workers."  

As the leaked letter drew outrage in France, Montebourg penned a scathing response, spelling out the reasons why France routinely ranks as a leading destination for companies to invest, beating China and India in mid-2012.

"Can I remind you that Titan, the business you run, is 20 times smaller than Michelin, the French (tire) technology leader with international influence, and 35 times less profitable," Montebourg wrote, in a two-page letter in French.

"This just shows the extent to which Titan could have learned and gained, enormously, from a presence in France."

Montebourg's letter, a copy of which was sent to Reuters, said Taylor's comments, "as extremist as they are insulting", illustrated his ignorance of France.

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