Coca-Cola defends 'French way' in row with US tycoon

2 min

The CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises in France has come to the rescue of France's industry minister following a spat between a US tyre magnate who claimed that French workers were too expensive and only worked three hours a day.


The CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, the largest non-alcoholic beverage manufacturer in France, has waded into a transatlantic row between France's Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg and US tyre tycoon Maurice Taylor, who claimed that French workers were too expensive and only worked three hours a day. 

Tristan Farabet, who heads Coca-Cola’s French operations, appeared to defend Montebourg, telling the minister in a letter that the soft drink giant “was happy to invest in France, for over 90 years”.

“[Coca-Cola] hopes to more actively promote the attractiveness of the French territory to foreign companies,” Farabet wrote, making direct reference to a verbal dispute that began last week.

His letter was made public by the Le Monde daily on Tuesday, and confirmed by Coca-Cola and ministry spokesmen.

Taylor vs. Montebourg

A very public tit-for-tat verbal joust began on February 20, when Taylor wrote Montebourg a letter blasting French unions and work culture, where employees allegedly worked “just three hours a day”.

The angry letter outlined why Taylor’s Titan tyre group would not be re-entering negotiations to buy an insolvent plant in the city of Amiens in northern France.

Montebourg responded by calling Taylor’s ideas “extremist” and “insulting” and by threatening to ramp up inspections on all Titan tyres entering the country.

In turn, Taylor called Montebourt an “imbecile” on a French radio show on February 26.

Springing to Montebourg’s side this week, Coca-Cola’s Farabet said his company was planning on investing an additional 66 million euros in France in 2013 in order to develop its five local plants.

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