The management of the Bekaert Group announced that it plans to close its steel cord plant in Figline e Incisa Valdarno, Italy, and to cease all activities there, while it also expands its joint venture in Brazil.
A press release said that Bekaert has contacted the works council of the Figline site, the unions and authorities about the decision that will result in the loss of 318 employees. The plant makes steel cord for tires, bead wire for tires, wire for high-pressure hoses and half-product wire for other steel cord plants. The release cited the significantly higher cost structure of the Italian plant, which it said “has not been able to generate a financially sustainable performance. ... The management regrets to implement this measure, but sees no other option to safeguard and strengthen its market share in the European rubber reinforcement markets.”
A separate press release said that the management of Belgo Mineira Bekaert Artefatos de Arame Ltda (BMB)—a 55.5/44.5% joint venture of ArcelorMittal and Bekaert that has three plants in Brazil—plans to invest US$33 million to expand their Itaúna plant in Minas Gerais, Brazil. “BMB will install half product capacity and become a fully integrated manufacturing entity,” it said. In addition, 35% tire cord production capacity will be added to enable BMB to grow their current market share in the region.
The expansion, to be spread out over three years, includes construction and infrastructure works and the installation of machines designed and assembled by Bekaert Engineering, the release said. The expansion, it noted, will add some 200 direct and indirect jobs in the area.