(Corrects typographical fault in the spelling of "exposure" in
PARIS May 6 Schneider Electric will
unveil a plan next month to restructure several industrial
sites in France to offset the impact of a strong euro, a move
some unionists fear could mean plant closures and up to 200 job
The company, which holds its annual shareholder meeting
later on Tuesday, confirmed it was studying ways to specialise
and consolidate its units making low voltage electrical
equipment and industrial automation systems.
"The goal is to preserve the group's industrial
competitiveness... and to reduce Schneider Electric's exposure
to foreign exchange effects," a company spokesman said.
"Schneider Electric's management has agreed to meet with staff
representatives in June to define the options envisaged."
Schneider, which reports earnings in euros, makes about 75
percent of its revenue in foreign currencies and 40 percent in
emerging markets. The group has signalled in past months it
planned to shift more production to countries including India
and Russia to protect margins from currency swings, but has so
far declined to give details or say whether this would imply
plant closures in Europe.
The news comes as a string of job losses in France's ailing
industry is giving Socialist President Francois Hollande a
serious headache two years into his mandate. The government is
currently trying to weigh into the planned sale of engineering
group Alstom's power business in a bid to preserve
jobs and plants in France.
"Will Schneider Electric's industrial sites have the same
fate as the French industry in general?" left-wing Force
Ouvriere (FO), the company's main union, wrote in a statement.
FO representative Lilian Aube told Reuters the planned
restructuring was not expected to affect services or sales
operations for the moment but would likely mean closures of
production and logistics units.
Schneider's medium-voltage business was already restructured
after the company took over the power distribution business of
energy group Areva in 2010.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume, Writing by Natalie Huet;
Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)