Prefect demands refund over factory closure

A Caterpillar crane

Prefect of Hauts-de-France wants US manufacturer Caterpillar to return hundreds of thousands of euro received in state aid after it announced closure of operation in Pas-de-Calais

US-based company Caterpillar should hand back hundreds of thousands of euros it received in public subsidies after it announced it will close a plant in Pas-de-Calais, the region's prefect has said.

Earlier this month, the manufacturer said will close its gearbox assembly facility at Monchy-le-Preux, near Arras, by February 2018, with the loss of 67 jobs. Production will move to Ireland, Caterpillar said.

The news has prompted the prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, Michel Lalande, to demand the company reimburses money it received from the State to develop the facility.

Local newspaper Voix du Nord reports that Caterpillar received State aid worth some €600,000 for development and expansion of the site, promising 30 new jobs which, the paper claims, never materialised.

Caterpillar has undertaken a massive company restructure over the past two years, resulting in 20,000 redundancies worldwide. A total 2,000 workers lost their jobs when an operation in Charleroi, Belgium, was closed, and a facility in Paris has also shutdown in recent months.

Following the closure of Caterpillar Transmissions in Pas-de-Calais, the company's sole operation in France will be in Grenoble, where 1,000 people are employed.

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