1 août 2018 | International, Naval

France confirms Fincantieri-STX shipyard deal, cautious on defense merger

ROME (Reuters) - The French government continues to support Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's (FCT.MI) takeover of STX France, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday, but cautioned against hastening a related defense naval merger.

Speaking in Rome after a meeting with the Italian government, he told journalists France had not changed its position on the deal, quelling concerns the takeover could be hampered by tenser relations between Paris and Italy's new anti-establishment government.

However, he warned against hastening a merger between Fincantieri and French military shipyards operator Naval Group which has been seen as a possible follow-up to the takeover of STX.

“It would not be wise” to discuss a defense merger now, Le Maire told reporters, stressing that this was not part of the deal reached in 2017.

Under the terms of that agreement between France and Italy, Fincantieri bought a 50 percent share in STX, but it took effective control of the French shipyards thanks to a 12-year loan of a 1 percent stake by the French state, which is subject to review clauses.

Relations between France and Italy have soured in recent weeks over spats on migrants and after the Italian government raised doubts on the TAV French-Italian rail link project which would connect Lyon and Turin.

Le Maire said after his meeting on Wednesday with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio that Paris was still waiting for Italy's position on the project.


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