French minister attacks ArcelorMittal

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Series Details 26.11.12
Publication Date 26/11/2012
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The steel company Arcelor Mittal is no longer welcome in France, Arnaud Montebourg, its minister for industrial recovery, said in November 2012 accusing the steelmaker of 'lying' and 'disrespecting' the country.

The multinational company had angered workers and the government when it announced a plan in October 2012 to close two furnaces at its steel plant in Florange.

The dispute would deepen fears among international companies about a powerful strain of anti-business sentiment running through François Hollande’s Socialist government. Mr Montebourg, a vocal critic of globalisation, launched similar public broadsides in the recent past against the Peugeot family over the carmaker’s plans to close the Aulnay car plant near Paris.

French President François Hollande demanded on the 27 November 2012 that Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate, guarantee the long-term future of workers at the disputed plant in Florange in northern France or face the threat of a state takeover of the operations.

Stepping up the pressure on the chief executive of ArcelorMittal during an hour-long meeting at the Elysée palace, President Hollande told Mr Mittal the 629 jobs under threat from the proposed closure of two blast furnaces at Florange must be saved.

The FT reported that the French government of France and ArcelorMittal reached a peace deal in the dispute on the 30 November 2012.

The French government announced that it had decided against nationalising the steelworks and had instead secured a pledge from the steel company to invest €180m in the site.

However, the two furnaces in contention would not be restarted for now, given weak European steel demand. ArcelorMittal would keep them in working order for future use in a test project for environmentally friendly steel production (Ulcos).

The European steel industry was struggling with overcapacity at a time of recession in the euro area and cheap competition in emerging markets.

Trade unions attacked the compromise agreement in France.

Separately, in January 2013 there were protests in Belgium when Arcelor Mittal attempted to close a coke plant and six production lines in Liege, and 1,300 jobs faced the axe.

Related Links
BBC News, 26.11.12: French minister threatens to expel Arcelor Mittal
France24, 26.11.12: Steel giant ArcelorMittal ‘not welcome in France’
France24, 27.11.12: Hollande warns ArcelorMittal of nationalisation
France24, 02.12.12: France backs down on ArcelorMittal nationalisation
Website: ULCOS
EuroNews, 29.01.13: Liege steel employees vote to work and protest

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