Orleans (AFP)

Towards a buyout by Pyrex?

The Orleans Commercial Court has asked Pyrex's parent company, International Cookware, to review its offer for the takeover of the famous Duralex glassworks, in receivership since September 2020.

The judges gave until Tuesday to the only buyer still in the running to detail certain points, deemed insufficient financially.

The decision will be reserved on January 28.

"The presentation (of Pyrex) was of high quality, both industrially and commercially, however, the offer is not equal to the minimum level expected by the court," said at the end of the 'hearing the president.

The judges point out in particular that the offer includes the takeover of a contract with Axa, to the tune of one million euros, which results in a "negative acquisition price".

"The Duralex brand is not even valued at one euro," he added.

Glasses deemed unbreakable in school canteens, designer objects from the MoMA store in New York, whiskey containers for 007 in Skyfall: Duralex creations did not attract many investors despite their notoriety.

Of the three projects initially submitted, two were aborted on Friday, paving the way for International Cookware, the only one competing to take over the glassworks of La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin (Loiret), symbol of "Made in France".

The first project, carried by one of the main shareholders, André Ioannidès, brother of the current leader Antoine Ioannidès, was abandoned in extremis the day before.

"We withdrew our offer late last night because we had too little time to collect the funding," explained his lawyer Antoine Poulain.

The other offer, coming from an independent commercial agent, Pierre-Olivier Baron, was not defended.

No one showed up for the hearing.

The parent company of Pyrex, controlled by the European investment fund Kartesia, plans to take over all 248 employees (less two senior executives).

The group based in Châteauroux also promises to invest 21 million euros over four years, said its CEO José Luis Llacuna on the sidelines of the hearing.

- "Emotional brand" -

"Duralex is an emotional brand. We have been interested in it for two years. Negotiations had been started but could not be concluded. We have spent a lot of time and energy to examine this file", reacted Mr. Llacuna.

"If we win, we have the ambition to give Duralex back its leadership in the world and to develop a global pole by relying on the two brands", explained the manager, who intends in particular to develop online sales.

Even if the unions regret the lack of brand promotion, this offer is well received by employees.

"The advantage is that it is financed, that it retains almost all the jobs and that the buyers plan to invest," said Pascal Colichet, CGT secretary of the CSE of Duralex.

The irruption of a last-minute outsider, who claims to have bought the glassware before its receivership, has not reshuffled the cards.

The consular court considered that the offer of La Compagnie française du verre was "out of time and without any guarantee of financing".

Duralex, in difficulty following an incident during the replacement of its oven in 2017, saw its situation deteriorate with the Covid-19 health crisis.

The latter led to a drop in exports and a decline in sales in the hotel and restaurant sector.

Although both specialists in tempered glass, Pyrex and Duralex do not use the same technologies, giving their dishes different properties.

Thus, Duralex glass is impact resistant, whereas Pyrex glass is particularly resistant to high temperatures, hence its specialization in oven dishes.

© 2021 AFP