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article imageMacron vows to renegotiate sale of French shipyard

By AFP     May 31, 2017 in Business

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that his government would seek to renegotiate the sale of the STX France shipyard to Italy's Fincantieri, in order to "guarantee job preservation" at the site.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will negotiate "a new shareholding structure" for the sale "in the coming weeks", Macron said during a visit to the Saint-Nazaire shipyard, the last gem in France's once-thriving shipbuilding industry.

The government of former president Francois Hollande approved the sale in April, and in May Fincantieri paid 79.5 million euros ($89 million) to buy a 67 percent stake in the company from its current owner, South Korea's STX Shipbuilding,

France would keep its minority 33 percent stake, and Fincantieri has agreed to reduce its stake to 48 percent by selling shares to an Italian investment consortium, while France's state-controlled naval shipbuilder DCNS would take 12 percent.

Fincantieri was the only company to lodge a bid, and has pledged to maintain jobs and activity at the site, which employs 2,600 people and supports a further 5,000 subcontracting jobs.

But labour unions and local officials contested the plan, saying Fincantieri would have de facto control and could steer contracts to its Italian shipyards.

Macron said he wanted a new deal that would "consolidate the industrial project and guarantee long-term jobs, because in no case should one site be favoured over another because of the shareholders."

French daily Le Monde reported that the government wants to exclude the Italian consortium from the deal, selling a stake instead to Swiss-Italian MSC Cruises and the US cruise giant Royal Caribbean, two of the shipyard's main clients.

The move would prevent Fincantieri from having majority control, the report said.

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