STX France to be nationalised

A shipyard on France’s Atlantic coast finds itself at the centre of a diplomatic spat. The nation’s new president, Emmanuel Macron has decided to temporarily nationalise the country’s largest yard at St-Nazaire rather than letting it fall into the hands of Italy’s Fincantieri, in a move that has reportedly left the Italian prime minister seething.

Macron’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said yesterday the government had “taken the decision to exercise the state’s pre-emption rights” to buy up the STX France shipyard rather than allow its sale.

Following the collapse of South Korean conglomerate STX only bidder – Fincantieri – had emerged with a EUR79.5m bid to buy a 66.6% stake in STX France, a yard best known for building cruiseships.

The Macron government had pushed Fincantieri to accept a 50:50 deal with the French state for the yard, but the Italian shipbuilder turned this offer down.

French officials are concerned that in the event of a cruise downturn Fincantieri would choose to axe staff in St Nazaire first rather than on home soil.

Fincantieri’s increasingly close ties with Chinese state-backed yards is also understood to have worried the Macron administration, while the world’s major cruise lines, MSC and Royal Caribbean, have voiced their concern that a yard duopoly would emerge of Fincantieri and Meyer Werft if the former had managed to take over STX France.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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