Mittwoch, 24.10.2018 07:03 Uhr

Italy and France reached a deal on Fincantieri

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 28.09.2017, 11:50 Uhr
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Rome [ENA] Italy and France have reached a deal on Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri's takeover of the French STX shipyards. Fincantieri was formed in 1959 and is owned by the Italian state through Fintecna. It was the largest shipbuilder in Europe and after the acquisition of Vard in 2013 the Fincantieri group doubled in size to become the fourth largest in the world. The deal sets up the creation of a world leader.

A naval, civil and military sector world leader, through an equal partnership between Italy and France. In any case, French President Emmanuel Macron triumphed because he wanted to prevent the Italian Fincantieri from buying two thirds of the French shipyards of the Korean company Stx. With a handshake he liquidated the previous agreements with the French State, represented by the Agence des Participations de l'Etat (APE). The agreements, which were keystones for the final agreements among future shareholders, also included the guidelines of the business plan, shared with APE, prepared by Fincantieri for STX France.

Macron knew this agreement, having been Minister of Economy in the Valls government until 2016, and exercised pre-emption rights of the French government. The Saint-Nazaire yards, where Stx France develops orders for cruise and army companies had to become state-owned. On May 19, 2017, Fincantieri signed the deal to buy 66.66% of Stx France, the Alliance of the Korean group Stx, active in shipbuilding. The Trieste-based company had been set to take over the company but the French government exercised pre-emption rights on STX capital in July, blocking the takeover and causing considerable tension with Rome.

Paris had called on Fincantieri to accept an offer to divide STX's capital 50-50. But at the time Rome said it would not accept a deal in which Fincantieri did not have control of STX. In fact, Fincantieri put on the table a check for 79.5 million euros and, in a sector dominated by giants, along with Stx it could boast orders for 36 billion euros. Fincantieri's plan was attractive in Europe, because in an industry such as the naval and where dimensions matter, the marriage between the two companies was offsetting the colossal groups of the Eastern. The agreement creates embarrassment for some Italian government members who had excluded the possibility of an agreement without 51% of the shares in Fincantieri's hands.

And, eventually, Italians only got the promise that at the expiration of the twelve-year loan, the French state 1% would go to Fincantieri. After the arrangement between French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, Fincantieri will get a 50% stake in the Saint Nazaire shipyard plus an additional 1% loaned to it by the French state for 12 years. France can take back the 1% if Fincantieri does not fulfil with the deal during those 12 years. Fincantieri will only have a "majority on loan" of Saint Nazaire's Stx shipyards: this is the conclusion of the French-Italian summit in Lyon. This sort of loan provides regular appointments between French and Italian during this period.

Each time, the two partners will look at the state of health of their joint venture and the respect of commitments undertaken by both parties, otherwise France can recover the precious 1% and withdraw its predominant role to Fincantieri. On the other hand, if Paris takes back the 1%, Fincantieri will have the option of selling the 50%. The deal was reached at Lyon summit where French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni met on a range of issues included the work in partnership to spur the European agenda for a better Europe and embraces military cooperation by the end of next year.

Gentiloni declared at a press conference with Macron that "Italy and France are united by a European impetus which I recognised in the speech Macron made at the Sorbonne and which we greatly need now that the eurozone has started growing again". Macron stated that the Fincantieri-STX deal was a "win-win accord". He added: "To those who think it's terrible that there is a non-French operator, I remind them that the shareholder was Korean before. Is a Korean better than an Italian?" The ownership of STX, where France and Italy are working to create a global player, is now thus constituted: 50% Fincantieri, 34.34% French State, 10% Naval Group, 3.66% local companies, 2% workers.

The board is composed of 8 members, of whom 4 from Fincantieri, 2 from the French State, one representing workers and one the Naval Group. Italy has to name the president and CEO, while France will have a veto over the appointments. Anyway, it was reported that France's Laurent Castaing would remain president. Fincantieri shares fell 2% on the Milan bourse on news of the deal. The deal, which sets up a global leader with revenues of 10 billion euros, is a sort of improvement on the previous one from all standpoints. The Italian shipbuilding group will have direct control of 51% (of the Saint Nazaire shipyards), something not granted in the previous accord which envisaged 48% for Fincantieri and 4% for an Italian financial institution.

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