French minister wants Mittal to leave country

 
City A.M. Reporter
STEELMAKER Mittal, which acquired France’s Arcelor in 2006, is no longer wanted in France due to years of broken promises, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said yesterday, intensifying a row over plans to close two furnaces in north-eastern France.

Montebourg’s attack on ArcelorMittal, which he later qualified, 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.

It came after Montebourg, one of the most left-wing ministers in the government, said last week France could nationalise the company’s Florange site on a temporary basis while the government tries to find a buyer.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, has said it will shut down two blast furnaces at Florange from 1 December 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 Indian-born Lakshmi Mittal, who according to French media is due to meet with Hollande today, saidmanagement 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.