PARIS (Reuters) – Steelmaker Mittal, which acquired France’s Arcelor in 2006, is no longer welcome in France due to years of broken promises, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Monday, intensifying the row over plans to close two furnaces in northeastern France.
Montebourg’s attack on ArcelorMittal <ISPA.AS> risks exacerbating tensions in a dispute that is central to Socialist President Francois Hollande’s efforts to save jobs and reverse years of industrial decline.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, has said it will shut down two blast furnaces at Florange from December 1 unless the government can find a buyer to operate them.
“We no longer want Mittal in France because they haven’t respected France,” Montebourg said in an interview with Les Echos business daily published on Monday.
A source close to Lakshmi Mittal, told Reuters that management were “very shocked” at Montebourg’s words.
“These are quite violent declarations against a company which employs 20,000 people in France,” the source said.
Failure to save jobs at Florange would add to a list of industrial shutdowns, including a Peugeot PSA <PEUP.PA> production site near Paris, and risks deepening fears in the public that the government is powerless to save jobs.
Shrewdly played Mr. Montebourg. Mittal so much wants to remain in France, they’re shutting down two furnaces there. I can’t imagine why unemployment is up so high in France. Well, France’s loss is someone else’ gain. Maybe president Zero would…….. naw, never mind.