Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri will take effective control of STX France under shared ownership, an Italian government source said on Wednesday, ending a dispute that has soured bilateral relations.
France had angered Italy by ordering a ”temporary” nationalization of STX, cancelling a deal in which Fincantieri and another Italian investor had agreed to buy 55 percent.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier on Wednesday he now hoped to be able to form a European-scale naval defence firm, on a par with the rail engineering leader created on Tuesday in a tie-up between another French firm – Alstom – and Germany’s Siemens.
Resolving the row over the future of the French shipyard was high on the agenda for French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
They will meet in Lyon later on Wednesday, a day after Macron offered an ambitious vision for European renewal, calling for the EU to work more closely on defence and immigration and for the euro zone to have its own budget.
Fincantieri had agreed in May to pay 79.5 million euros ($93.4 million) for a majority stake in STX France, which was being sold following the collapse of South Korean parent STX.
But amid concerns about jobs and the firm’s strategic importance, Paris backtracked on that deal in July.
Under the agreement expected to be announced by Macron and Gentiloni, Fincantieri will take 51 percent of STX, though 1 percent of that holding will be in the form of shares lent by France, the Italian source said.
Paris has a right to demand back that 1 percent stake under certain circumstances, the source said. But it was unclear what would happen with the ownership of STX if it chose to do so.
Fincantieri will have the right to pick four members of STX’s eight-member board, including the chief executive and chairman, added the Italian government source. The chairman will have a casting vote.
STX’s Saint-Nazaire yard is the only one big enough in France to build aircraft carriers and other large warships.
”I hope that in the naval sector, without wishing to give away anything that might arrive this evening, we can also move towards a world giant in terms of industrial, naval construction – on a European scale,” Le Maire told reporters, reiterating his support for the tie-up between Siemens and Alstom.