France has threatened to nationalize the STX France Defence Shipyard if Italy, which has sought a majority stake, does not accept its offer of equal ownership.
Italy turned down yesterday the French proposal to of an equal share in STX France's ownership with Paris, saying it wanted the Italian state-owned Fincantieri shipbuilder to have a majority stake and control of the board, Reuters quoted an Italian Treasury source as saying.
The company is being sold off following the collapse of South Korean parent STX, but Fincantieri's bid has raised fears for French jobs at the Saint-Nazaire site on the Atlantic Coast, as well as for French interests.
The shipyard is the only one in France which can build large military ships the size of aircraft carriers.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire was quoted as saying to Franceinfo radio, "If our Italian friends say 'this deal does not work for us, we don't agree with 50/50', the state will exercise its pre-emption rights on STX," Le Maire told. "We will buy shares, we are majority owners and we will give ourselves time to negotiate a new shareholder pact".
Under an existing pact, the French state has a pre-emption right to buy out shareholders that runs until the end of the month.