PARIS Jan 8 Temporary nationalisation remains
an option for the French government when companies seek to close
industrial sites that it deems economically viable, Industry
Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Tuesday.
President Francois Hollande's eight-month-old Socialist
government has so far had little success in pursuing election
pledges to reverse a relentless rise in unemployment.
Montebourg - who raised eyebrows in November with a threat
to nationalise a foreign-owned steelworks to save two idled
furnaces - said public-private partnerships or temporary state
takeovers were preferable to leaving important sites to close.
"On the issue of temporary nationalisations, the debate is
open," Montebourg told a lunch with foreign media.
"Temporary nationalisation means that when you have a site
that is viable and profitable it is better to maintain it,
including by having private investors who lack capital team up
with the state to keep (it) going for the medium or long term."
Hollande's eight-month-old Socialist government is concerned
about vulnerable sites in oil refining, steelmaking and
aluminium as it battles to reverse a long decline in French
industry and save jobs, Montebourg said.
The minister, who has unnerved investors with his
protectionist views on trade and industrial policy, said talks
were still underway with global mining group Rio Tinto,
which wants to sell a century-old aluminium plant in the French
The company has said it would only close the plant, which
employs 431 people, if the sale process fails.
The government's standoff with steel giant ArcelorMittal
over idled furnaces at its Florange plant ended with
the group keeping control of the site but promising to find jobs
for any of the 630 furnace workers made redundant.