PARIS Nov 22 France's industry minister said on
Thursday that the government should consider a takeover of two
threatened French blast furnaces at ArcelorMittal's
Florange steel plant, as it tries to prop up the country's
struggling industrial sector.
"The question ... of eventual government control, even
temporary, should be seriously studied by the government,"
Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg told the Senate.
The fate of the two blast furnaces, which have been out of
operation since last year due to lack of demand, is a hot issue
in France, where President Francois Hollande's Socialist
government is under pressure to save jobs and reverse decades of
On Wednesday, Montebourg told the National Assembly that the
government had received two offers of interest for some of
ArcelorMittal's assets beyond the two blast furnaces at the
plant near the German border.
ArcelorMittal said in October that it planned to close the
two mothballed furnaces, where some 629 workers could lose their
It agreed to delay its decision to close the plant by two
months until Dec. 1 in order to give the government time to find
Montebourg also told the Senate on Thursday that
ArcelorMittal held an "astronomical" tax debt to French
authorities, without specifying further, a charge the company
"We currently have no tax debt with the French authorities,"
wrote ArcelorMittal in a statement, adding that it complied with
all applicable taxes in France.
(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, Alexandria Sage and Phil
Blenkinsop; Writing By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Hugh Lawson)