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 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
US blames Russia after rocket attacks in Ukraine kill at least 30
Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...
£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...
£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...