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Poltrona Frau workers concerned by US takeover

Furniture maker to become subsidiary of Michigan-based Haworth

06 February, 15:22
Poltrona Frau workers concerned by US takeover (ANSA) - Tolentino, February 6 - Unions expressed concerns Thursday about potential job losses in Italy following a deal by a United States-based firm to buy control of upscale furniture manufacturer Poltrona Frau.

Haworth, based in Michigan, has agreed to pay 2.96 euros per share for a majority stake in the company, based in Tolentino, a city in eastern Italy's Marche region near the Adriatic Sea.

The value of the deal has not been publicly announced but it is expected to clear regulatory hurdles and close in April.

About 410 workers directly employed at the Poltrona Frau manufacturing plant say their labour is essential to the final product but they are concerned Haworth may not see their value.

"We want to understand the real intentions of Haworth," said unions for the workers at the company.

About 1,000 more workers depend on the plant in addition to its 410 workers.

"Without our experience, and our hands, no one today can achieve products of that quality".

On Wednesday, Charme Investments and Moschini SrL announced they were selling their shares in Poltrona Frau, together totaling about 60% of the entire company, to Haworth, a family-owned office furniture giant.

Charme is the holding company of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who is also chairman of Ferrari, and owns just over 50% of Poltrona shares, while Moschini holds about 7%.

Officials from Poltrona Frau and Haworth have met with employees about the plan but the unions said they want more information.

"We've asked for a meeting as soon as possible to learn the new business plan," said the provincial secretary of the CGIL union Aldo Benfatto.

He said that if Haworth decided to move the company from Tolentino, it would mean "sacrificing the quality of the production and a high level of craftsmanship".

Poltrona Frau produces high-end office and home furniture, combining modern design with traditional craftsmanship, but has also had a strong connection with Charme by making leather seats for car brands including Ferrari and Fiat. As well, it has worked with Haworth in recent years, promoting designs from the American group in Poltrona Frau's outlets in the US.

Poltrona Frau has had several flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other US cities.