Paris — 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 cash flow difficulties.

The loss-making group manages more than 2.3-million hectares of forests in Africa and runs seven factories on the continent, with employees in Gabon, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

Commenting on 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 €149.4m ($185.2m) for 2016, a fall of 7.5%, and said it was owed €15.6m in VAT 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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