France's Le Maire eyes naval deal similar to Siemens/Alstom

Marco Green
September 28, 2017

France had this summer blocked the takeover of the shipyard STX, citing concerns about jobs but annoying the Italian government.

France's finance minister is defending a deal to merge French high-speed train maker Alstom with Germany's Siemens as crucial to keeping European industry globally competitive.

France and Italy recommitted themselves to an ambitious rail link under the Alps on Wednesday, saying they would complete a multi-billion-euro line between Lyon and Turin, work on which stalled after President Emmanuel Macron took office. If France recalls the loan, however, Fincantieri could force it to buy back the remaining 50 percent.

STX's Saint-Nazaire yard is the only one big enough in France to build aircraft carriers and other large warships.

Under the new deal, Fincantieri will own 50 percent of STX, while the French state will hold 34 percent. France will lend Fincantieri another 1 percent stake to give the Italian group operational control.

Under the agreement, expected to be formally announced by Macron and Gentiloni, Fincantieri will take 51 percent of STX, though 1 percentage point of the holding will be in the form of shares lent to Fincantieri by France, the Italian source said. French defence company Naval Group will own 10 percent, with the remainder in the hands of STX staff and local suppliers.

Fincantieri has committed to maintaining the shipyard's research and development division in France; to not transferring know-how or intellectual property outside Europe; to granting France a right of veto over the future name of the STX company; and to giving the French special rights related to the military activity of STX, Macron's office said.

Fincantieri shares were down 2 percent at 1.08 euros by 0830 GMT on September 28.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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