We'll protect jobs: Villepin on steel takeover

13th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 13, 2006 (AFP) - France's stance on the hostile bid by the world's largest steelmaker Mittal Steel for European rival Arcelor will depend on details of the deal and the principle of protecting French jobs, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said in comments published Monday.

PARIS, Feb 13, 2006 (AFP) - France's stance on the hostile bid by the world's largest steelmaker Mittal Steel for European rival Arcelor will depend on details of the deal and the principle of protecting French jobs, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said in comments published Monday.

"The role of the state is to protect the interests of workers and develop the technological assets of the country," Villepin told the Figaro daily.

The Netherland-based Mittal group headed by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal has made an 18.6-billion-euro (22.3-billion-dollar) bid for Luxembourg-based Arcelor, which would create a steel company with an output three times bigger than its three nearest rivals combined.

The unsolicited bid has sparked objections from the governments of France, Luxembourg and Spain and from labour unions, who are worried about job losses if Amsterdam-registered Mittal takes over the group.

India's trade and industry minister on Saturday warned European governments against racist reactions to Mittal Steel's takeover bid for Arcelor.

Kamal Nath accused the European governments opposing the bid of discrimination and warned: "If the colour of the shareholder, the nationality of the shareholder, or the passport of the shareholder is to be looked at, then we will have to give new definitions to national treatment."

Villepin assured in his comments Monday that France had no problem with the Mittal bid in principle but that it would "wait to know the details of the industrial project",

"Arcelor is a high valued added company in the metallurgic sector, with 30,000 people employed in our country. We therefore remain vigilant, mobilised and exacting, just like our European partners," he said.

Two weeks after the launch of the hostile bid, Mittal and Arcelor are waging a long-range duel, with the publication of their annual results used as part of their bid to persuade shareholders of their cause.

Mittal announced on Friday that it would obtain a credit line of up to EUR 8 billion from a banking syndicate to partly finance its hostile takeover bid for world number two, Arcelor.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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