France reaches €180m deal on Mittal steel plant
Firm run by Britain’s wealthiest man agrees to drop plans for 650 redundancies at site
Saturday 01 December 2012
The clash of steel between the French government and Britain’s wealthiest man ended with a partial victory for Paris last night.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company, agreed to invest €180m (£146m) over five years and cancel plans for 650 redundancies at its steelworks in Florange, in the eastern region of Lorraine. In return, Paris abandoned a threat to nationalise the factory and re-sell it to a private buyer.
The showdown had become symbolic of President François Hollande’s determination to reverse the erosion of France’s industrial base. The government was forced to accept, however, that two shuttered blast furnaces would not re-open immediately.
Instead, ArcelorMittal, controlled by the Indian-born, British-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, will develop other profitable activites at the site, such as the production of steel plate for the German car industry. Three hours before last night’s deadline for a deal, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said a compromise had been reached. Jobs would be preserved, he said, by a “programme of investment” in cold steel activities. The blast furnaces, which produce “raw” or hot steel, would not re-open but be mothballed until they could be converted to possible experimental use in environment-friendly steel-making. There would be no compulsory redundancies, he insisted. In return for the “unconditional promises” by ArcelorMittal, Mr Ayrault said Paris had dropped its threat to nationalise the complex and sell it within a matter of months for €400m to an undisclosed potential buyer.
The nationalisation threat caused a stir internationally. Foreign commentators, including the London Mayor Boris Johnson, mocked France for returning to the statist 1970s or even the revolutionary 1790s.
The outcome of the talks will be seen as a vindication of the tough line taken by Mr Hollande and his Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, who had suggested the Mittal group was no longer welcome in France.
However, the deal received only a cautious welcome from politicians and unions. The Socialist mayor of Florange, Philippe Traillon, said the deal was “fine in principle” but demanded guarantees that Arcelor would keep its word. Unions accuse the firm of breaking previous commitments.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Hacking Trial: Rebekah Brooks, Raisa and a new twist in the saga of a horse fit for a Prime Minister
Israel-Gaza conflict: Palestinian death toll now exceeds 500 – but Israel fights on
Income tax league: Revealed - the UK towns where people pay the most and least tax
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire