French forestry and wood products group Rougier filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, causing uncertainty for its nearly 3,000 employees in central Africa, a court source told AFP.
The 95-year-old company blamed major logistical problems at the port of Doula in Cameroon, as well as delays to tax refunds due from several Africa states which have caused cashflow difficulties.
The loss-making group manages over 2.3 million hectares (5.7 million hectares) of forests in Africa -- an area slightly bigger than Wales -- and runs seven factories on the continent, with employees in Gabon, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Commenting Tuesday, Rougier said that problems at the Doula port had worsened in the second half of 2017 which had led to a sharp increase in the volume of stocks blocked in the export hub on the Wouri river.
The group criticised the inaction of the Cameroon government, saying the port ‘has not been targeted for investment and has silted up considerably, which is a problem for ships trying to get to the quayside to pick up containers for export.’
The group reported sales of 149.4 million euros ($185.2 million) for 2016, a fall of 7.5 percent, and said it was owed 15.6 million euros in VAT tax refunds from Cameroon, Congo and Gabon.
A bankruptcy court in the French city of Poitiers will decide on March 13 whether to order the liquidation of the company or appoint an administrator to try to turn the company around.
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