MILAN, Italy (Nov. 15)—Manuli Rubber Industries S.p.A. is blaming the introduction of a legislated 35-hour week in France for a fall in operating profits over the first nine months of 2000. The law prompted a reorganization at Manuli Auto France, which led to a $2.7 million rise in transport costs, Manuli said. The Italian group´s automotive business also paid penalties for delivery delays of about $900,000 and has set a further $3.5 million aside for further potential fines. Manuli has set up a task force to resolve the situation. For the first three quarters of 2000, the Italian firm´s operating profits fell 3.7 percent to $15.3 million from consolidated net sales of $232.2 million, up 15.3 percent on the same period last year.