The Finnish group UPM (United Paper Mills) voted on Friday, October 15, to sell one of the largest paper recycling sites in France. The owner of the equipment at La Chapelle-Darblay, in Grande-Couronne (Seine-Maritime), wishes to sell it to a consortium between the French companies Paprec and Samfi Invest, but the Rouen-Normandy Metropolis quickly announced that it wanted “Use your right of pre-emption” to buy back the site in place of the selected candidates.
The Samfi-Paprec project “Includes a waste sorting activity, without recycling, and the establishment within three to five years of a hydrogen production unit”, recalled the metropolis in a press release on Friday. “The skills and added value of [la Chapelle-Darblay] in terms of paper / cardboard recycling, unique in France by their nature and industrial scale, would then be lost ” , then argues the community to justify the launch of the preemption procedure.
The sale of the Chapelle-Darblay, announced in September 2019 before its closure in June 2020, is closely monitored by the State and local authorities. The plant occupies a 33 hectare site and could process up to 480,000 tonnes of waste paper per year, the result of sorting 24 million people.
Competitive offer from Veolia
Discussions between UPM and Samfi-Paprec have been ongoing for several months. The project selected by UPM “Initially provides for the regrouping of Paprec activities on the site with around fifty jobs”, explained to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Julien Sénécal, CGT secretary of the social and economic committee of the company. “Samfi foresees 70 jobs by 2030 for a hypothetical project linked to hydrogen”, he adds.
A takeover by Veolia, the world number one in water and waste, was also mentioned, but the group only applied on Thursday, in partnership with the papermaker Fiber Excellence, the leading French producer of commercial pulp. In a press release, Veolia had promised 250 qualified jobs on the site which would be ” essentially “ from “Skills that were present before the shutdown of the plant”.
The site “Would produce 400,000 tonnes of packaging cardboard for a rapidly growing international market, from recycled paper and cardboard collected in France. The energy required for the installation will be produced by a biomass cogeneration boiler ”, assured Veolia. The French multinational also planned to modernize the production tool and the boiler, for an investment of 120 million euros, in order to allow “The relocation of an industry that was going to leave France”, in the words of its Chairman and CEO, Antoine Frérot.
“There would have been no offer, it would have been different. But, there, there are credible industrial buyers. Veolia and Fiber Excellence are serious companies, which put around a hundred million euros on the table ”, the president of the Rouen-Normandy metropolis, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, told AFP. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and the Deputy Minister for Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, also considered that the competing offer from Veolia “Merit.”[ait] to be examined in detail “.
When the UPM company has notified the metropolis of its intention to sell to Samfi-Paprec, the community will have two months to assert its right of pre-emption, said Mayer-Rossignol. “The domain service will do an evaluation of the site. Maybe the price will be lower than what[UPM] expected with the sale to Samfi-Paprec, but it is several million euros ”, said the president of the metropolis to AFP. According to Mr. Sénécal, Samfi submitted an offer for 7.5 million euros, while Veolia offered 8 million to buy the site.