French investors to get state loan if win Ascometal bid

PARIS Wed May 14, 2014 3:32pm EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - A group of French investors led by former finance ministry official Frank Supplisson will get state funding if it wins a bid to buy the assets of bankrupt specialty steelmaker Ascometal.

In a letter to the group, seen by Reuters, French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said the group will get a 35 million euro state loan if its bid is selected by the Nanterre commercial court later this month.

Three other groups have bid for the assets: Brazil's Gerdau (GGBR4.SA) the largest steelmaker in the Americas, and two private equity groups linked to Ascometal's former shareholder and financiers.

French daily Les Echos said in an excerpt of Thursday's paper the court-appointed administrator favors the Brazilian offer, while the finance ministry supports the Supplisson group's offer.

Gerdau's 86 million bid includes 55.5 million euros in capital and 40 million euros in long-term debt. The Brazilian steel giant would rehire 1,585 of Ascometal's workers and take on an extra 166 people.

Before the bankruptcy, Ascometal employed 1,900 people.

The group around Supplisson, who was deputy-chief of staff to former finance minister Christine Lagarde, said in a statement on Monday its bid included 55.5 million euros in capital and 40 million euros in long-term debt.

It also confirmed it would hire all Ascometal's industrial staff. Nordic speciality steelmaker Ovako has taken a 10 percent stake in the French group.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)

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