France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has offered to expand shipbuilding cooperation with Italy into naval vessels to renegotiate STX France shipyard ownership deal.
Le Maire said in an interview published on Sunday by Le Journal du Dimanche that he will open renegotiations in Rome on August 1, Reuters reports.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron temporarily nationalised France’s biggest shipyards STX France to prevent an Italian takeover by Fincantieri, ripping up a prior agreement in a protectionist move that infuriated Rome and startled EU capitals.
The shipyard is the only one in France which can build large military ships the size of aircraft carriers.
After the collapse of its South Korean owner, STX, last year, only one bidder came forward to buy its two-third holding for €79.5m (£71m), the Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri. Such a deal was controversial as it would allow the Italian firm to control a site of strategic interest for France, as well as potentially leaving thousands of French jobs more vulnerable in a downturn.
A compromise deal had been reached under Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande, which would have still effectively left Italy with a majority shareholding. Le Maire had withdrawn that agreement and instead proposed a 50-50 share with the Italians, an offer that expired on Thursday, prompting nationalisation.
Le Maire gave no details of the military offer but said it would build on planned collaboration in civilian vessels, creating a "European naval shipbuilder champion".
"If there's no deal (with Italy), we will stick with the current situation and look for other potential buyers.
But that's not what we want," he added.
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,
Fincantieri has been designated as the preferred bidder for South Korean STX Shipbuildings French unit by a South Korean court. Fincantieri would now conduct field research on the shipyard and agree a price with the South Korean firm before signing a deal for its 66
STX France and DCNS have been awarded the contract to build the French Navy’s third Projection and Command Vessel (BPC) for the French Navy. In line with the recovery plan initiated by the Government in order to face up to the challenges of the world economic crisis, the order of the third Projection and Command Vessel called for the creation of a tailor-made industrial organizational structure in order to achieve the budgetary objective fixed by the state
Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri will take control of France's STX shipyard to create one of the largest naval shipbuilding companies in the world. The Italian and French governments struck a deal in Lyon yesterday to end a dispute between the two countries after France had unexpectedly blocked a takeover of the STX shipyard by Fincantieri this summer, citing job and strategic concerns, AFP reported
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