Threatened Renault cylinder head supplier, Fonderie du Poitou Aluminium (FPA) has secured a buyer and investment worth EUR36.5m (US$47.7m) just days before the French Presidential elections, saving 390 out of 450 jobs.

The first round of elections takes place this Sunday (22 April), with current incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy, announcing FPA’s rescue by Saint Jean Industries (SJI ) at the site’s Poitou-Charentes headquarters during a visit this week.

According to union sources, Renault, Peugeot and the French State will all invest heavily in the plant, a move the labour bodies have welcomed despite their original wish to be re-integrated into former owner, Renault.

“In terms of investment, Renault [has] made EUR11m [and] will put EUR5.5m to the site to preserve it,” CFE-CGC main union official, Alex Jamain told just-auto from France.

“Volume now is very low, so to be able to finance part of the short-term working, Renault puts its hands in its pockets.”

The union added SJI would receive EUR12m from the Fonds de Modernisation des Equipementiers Automobiles (FMEA), which will be co-funded in equal measures by Peugeot, Renault and the French State.

“This EUR12m will go into the capital of SJI, which means Peugeot, Renault and the State will have a least one seat…at board level,” said Jamain. As well as that, we have EUR8m from the Aide a la Re-industrilisation (ARI).”

For CFE-CGC, the decision is vindication of its intense political lobbying since last October, when FDP appeared doomed. 

Since then, the union has met Sarkozy and engaged in a furious round of lobbying that has seen the Industry and Energy Ministers become involved as well as former French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and previous Presidential candidate, Segolene Royale, head of the Poitou-Charentes region.

Despite FPA’s relatively small size, it has seized a remarkable amount of headlines during its bitter dispute with former owners, Montupet , which unions claimed wanted to slash wages by 15% and weekly hours worked from 39h to 35h.

The foundry mainly produces engine cylinder heads for Renault, BMW , Citroen and Peugeot among others, with Renault appearing to be by far the largest vehicle manufacturer that FDP supplies.

Saint Jean Industries was not immediately available for comment.