PARIS, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The French state will provide five million euros ($6.24 million) to support the Ascoval steel plant in Saint-Saulve, northern France for a year, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday, a move that will retain several hundred jobs.
The Hauts de France region, Swiss company Schmolz + Bickenbach and French steel pipe maker Vallourec at the same time agreed to create a 14-million-euro fund to help staff if there are future job cuts.
“The state has agreed to put up 5 million euros,” Le Maire said after meeting with representatives from Ascoval’s unions, local officials and Schmolz + Bickenbach.
Schmolz + Bickenbach was chosen by a Strasbourg court this week to buy troubled French steelmaker Ascometal. Ascometal, which makes specialty steel and employs around 1,300 workers, filed for court protection last November.
But the rescue by Schmolz + Bickenback left out Ascoval, a joint-venture between Ascometal and Vallourec, which employs 300 people. An agreement was reached to guarantee activity at the plant for another year while a buyer is sought. (Reporting by Myriam Rivet, Writing by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Luke Baker)