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.