Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Saint-Nazaire : France and Italy in the same boat – Release

After having belonged to Alstom, before passing between the hands of the Norwegian Aker Yards and then the Korean STX, the ex-construction sites of the Atlantic will find the tricolor flag. Has this almost that the green-white-red of the Italian flag will be flown above the blue-white-red on the port of Saint-Nazaire : the justice Korean has finally contracted Tuesday to Fincantieri the key of the last great French shipyard, which was to sell in the wake of the bankruptcy of its shareholder Korean.

the choice of The group home is not a surprise : it was the only one to have filed a takeover offer for STX France to the deadline of 27 December, after the withdrawal of the Dutch Damen and the chinese Genting hong Kong. The first is not able to reach an agreement with its allies, Royal Caribbean and MSC to make an offer. The second has been deterred by the veto of the French authorities who did not want to take the risk of a transfer of technology in China.

The know-how of shipyards of Saint-Nazaire in large cruise ships is indeed recognized worldwide. Since one-hundred-fifty years, this gem of shipbuilding has seen out of the holds of his ships an armada of large ships, civil and military : the steamship France to the recent helicopter carriers of the class Mistral sold to Egypt, passing by giant cruise ships such as the Queen Mary 2 or the latest ” Harmony of the Seas… And today, the order book is full : STX France has 14 ships to be built by 2026.

shareholders ‘ agreement

The French State, which holds a third of the share capital of the company and favored the creation of an “Airbus of the navy”, much has been weighed in the fact that the Italian found himself alone in the fray. The CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, has yet been received at Bercy on 22 December by the secretary of State for Industry, Christophe Sirugue. And as Liberation was revealed on 10 October, the Italian group was strongly encouraged to make a place in the group naval military French DCNS in its proposed takeover of STX France. Fincantieri has yet to reach an agreement with the commercial court of Seoul on the purchase price of 66.66% of the capital owned by the Korean. And he will have to discuss with the French authorities on a shareholder : according to our information, DCNS hopes to take up to 15 % of the share capital of STX France. And the French State intends to retain its blocking minority of 33,34 %. Objective : to secure the possibility of buil ding large military vessels in Saint-Nazaire.

The building nazairiens are considered as “a tool of sovereignty strategic” : with its wedge giant 900 meters long, and its powerful lift of 1 400 tons of Saint-Nazaire is the only French site able to assemble the hull of an aircraft carrier of new generation… The partnership between Fincantieri and DCNS should not be a problem : the two groups know each other well. As the French (DCNS is owned at 62 % by the State and 35 % by Thales), the Italian is mostly controlled by public funds (to 71.6 % by the Caisse des dépôts Italian). And the two groups have already forged an agreement to share the development costs of the new frigates multimissions (Fremm).

Headquartered in Trieste, the Italian group is a heavyweight global industry (see cons below). With the reinforcement of STX France, Fincantieri is expected to emerge as the fifth world’s largest shipbuilding behind the Korean Hyundai, Daewoo, Samsung, and Hanjin. Which could prompt its competitors, like the German Meyer Werft, to enter the competition authorities in order to prevent the creation of a juggernaut of cruising in Europe. But Fincantieri seems to have received assurances on this point, because its clientele is more global than european.


No detail has filtered out of the amount of the bid of Fincantieri, the Italian press evaluated recently in a range of between 100 and 200 million euros. A valuation quite low for a company with 1 billion euros turnover and employs 2 600 employees in Saint-Nazaire (and the double sub-contractors). The justice Korean hoped surely more to bail out the parent company STX, sunk by a debt of 7 for 300 billion won (approximately 6 billion euro). But given the financial emergency, she did not want to run the risk of re-launch a call for tenders. STX France was the only construction cost-south-Korean.

In the meantime, the trade unions of the former construction sites of the Atlantic are worried about the social consequences of this purchase : they are afraid of duplication in the offices of studies and media functions, and up to 500 job cuts. The risk of technology transfers in China frightens them also. Because Fincantieri has “outsourced” the building of four cruise vessels at shipyards SCCS Shanghai… But the Italian has no interest in weakening a tool the industrial world recognized. In any case, the French State will have a say to ensure employment maintenance and know-how in France : the secretary of State for Industry, Christophe Sirugue, will come this Wednesday in Saint-Nazaire to say to the workers of the navy that the government will ensure that the sites remain well-anchored around their large pool of Penhoët.

Jean-Christophe Féraud


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