The STX France yard is situated in Saint-Nazaire, France (Image: STX France)
The French government has temporarily nationalised the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire after failing to reach a 50:50 capital acquisition agreement with Italian state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri.
Founded more than 150 years ago, STX France is based on the French Atlantic coast and is being sold following the collapse of South Korean parent STX Offshore and Shipbuilding.
Earlier this year, former French president François Hollande’s government reached a deal to keep 33.3% of its stake in STX France and veto rights, but sell 66.6% of the shares to Fincantieri for €79.5 million. Later, Fincantieri agreed to reduce its stake to 48% by selling some shares to an Italian investment consortium, Fondanzione CR Trieste, and French state-controlled naval shipbuilder DCNS was to take a 12% stake.
In April 2017, new French President Emmanuel Macron revealed his administration would renegotiate the deal due to concerns French politicians and unions raised over the future of France’s shipbuilding industry and the security of the yard’s 2,600 employees and more than 500 subcontractors. The government also cited concerns about the yard being controlled by the Italian state as it is the only one in France that is big enough to build aircraft carriers and warships.
Macron’s administration proposed a new 50:50 share capital agreement with Fincantieri, which would also let the shipbuilder appoint the president and general manager, giving it operational control. When this was rejected at midnight on 27 July, the French state exercised its pre-emption right to buy out shareholders for an estimated €80 million before the end of July.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the move to nationalise the yard is only temporary and that it will not remain under state control in the long term. It is hoped the move will give the French government more time to negotiate with the Italian government.
Le Maire will meet the Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and the Italian Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda on 1 August to try and reach an agreement in the coming weeks.
STX France has built some of the world’s biggest cruise ships and currently has two orders from Royal Caribbean International, five from MSC Cruises and four from Celebrity Cruises on its books until 2026.