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.