Court picks French bid for steelmaker Ascometal

PARIS Thu May 22, 2014 9:18am EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - A commercial court has picked a group of French investors led by former finance ministry official Frank Supplisson ahead of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau (GGBR4.SA) to take over the assets of bankrupt specialty steelmaker Ascometal.

French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg welcomed the decision by the court in Nanterre, near Paris on Thursday and pledged government support via its economic development fund as part of a plan to help companies in difficulty.

The group formed around Supplisson, former deputy chief of staff to former finance minister Christine Lagarde, had said its bid included 55.5 million euros ($76 million) in capital and 40 million euros in long-term debt. Montebourg had said in a letter seen by Reuters that the group would get a 35 million euro state loan.

The group also said it would hire all of Ascometal's industrial staff. Before the bankruptcy, Ascometal employed 1,900 people at six plants in France.

The supplier of specialist steel products to the automotive, engineering and oil sectors had sales of 969 million euros in 2011. Nordic specialty steelmaker Ovako is also involved in the French consortium bid.

(Reporting by Chine Labbe; Writing by James Regan; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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