France steps up pressure on ArcelorMittal

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 12, 2018

ArcelorMittal Chairman, Lakshmi N. Mittal. (file photo)

The French Government has continued to increase the pressure on ArcelorMittal over the future of two blast furnaces in its Florange Plant in eastern France, as the nation’s President Francois Hollande reiterated the threat of his industry minister Arnaud Montebourg to nationalise the asset.

Following the hastily put together meeting on Tuesday evening, following Montebourg’s strong comments to Les Echos, the President’s office, the Elysee palace put out a statement that the Hollande had “reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring the sustainability of employment on the site”.

He urged the company to continue beyond a forthcoming deadline on Saturday to find a potential buyer for the assets.

Two months ago ArcelorMittal, which employs a total of 20,000 in France, announced that it planned to close the two blast furnaces that were idled last year at Florange in inland France, with the loss of 629 jobs.

Under the agreement with the French Government it allowed for a two-month period to find a buyer for the assets, which form only part of the plant.

Florange will continue to employ around 2,000 workers and is being transformed into a hub for the French automotive industry. So far, a credible buyer has failed to come forward, though Montebourg insisted that two firms would be interested in acquiring the entire site – something that ArcelorMittal refuses to do.

The dispute has raised concerns about the policies of the Hollande Government, which has made protecting jobs a priority, and has clashed with various firms, including Peugeot Citroen over plans for sizeable job cuts in response to the economic slump in Europe.

Published on November 28, 2012

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