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Saputo to shut burned U.S. cheese plant

Quebec dairy firm Saputo has permanently closed one of its U.S. cheesemaking facilities that was damaged in a fire last month.

The plant at Hinesburg, Vermont, about 175 km south of Montreal, is officially closed as of Wednesday, putting 80 permanent staff out of work.

The plant was damaged by fire on Sept. 29, since which time its cheese production has been moved to other Saputo facilities in the U.S. Some of the plant’s staff may be offered transfers to other facilities in Saputo’s U.S. dairy products division.

The closure is expected to cost the company about US$5.4 million after taxes, including an after-tax fixed-assets write-down of about US$4.4 million, which will be logged in its third-quarter ledger for fiscal 2009.

However, Saputo noted in its release Wednesday, it expects to see annual savings after taxes of about US$2.2 million, starting in fiscal 2010, due to the closure.

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