ROME Oct 28 U.S. aluminium group Alcoa
is willing to reopen talks to sell an Italian plant to the Swiss
industrial group Klesch, the company said on Monday after a
meeting between trade unions and Italian government
representatives in Rome.
Alcoa broke off negotiations in June to sell its smelter on
the island of Sardinia to Klesch, which put forward a formal
expression of interest last year.
"We confirm our willingness to sell the plant but only to a
reliable counter-party," an Alcoa spokeswoman told Reuters after
union and government officials had announced Alcoa was willing
to re-open talks.
The two companies and labour unions will meet again at the
industry ministry by the end of November to see whether a deal
can be reached, the UILM union and Italian Deputy Industry
Minister Claudio De Vincenti said.
About 300 workers temporarily laid off from the plant
protested outside the ministry during the meeting in which the
government said there were no other companies apart from Klesch
interested in the smelter, UILM said.
Alcoa last year decided to shut its smelter in Sardinia, an
island hit by high unemployment and slow economic growth,
blaming high power prices for undermining its competitiveness.
But under intense political pressure, the U.S. aluminium
giant has laid off workers temporarily and maintained the plant
while it searched for a buyer.
Alcoa has already paid back to the government about 295
million euros ($406.67 million) it received in preferential
power tariffs over the last decade, De Vincenti told reporters.
Europe's highest court on Oct. 17 ruled that the Alcoa tax
breaks constituted state aid and had to be given back to Italy.