August 5, 2015 / 11:07 AM / 4 years ago

Italy's Renzi wins vote to help banks, keep steel plant open

ROME, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a confidence vote in the Senate on Wednesday on emergency measures to help banks offload bad loans and to keep open a major steel plant which prosecutors say is unsafe.

The very different measures were contained in a single decree as the government races to push through legislation ahead of the parliamentary summer recess.

The Senate passed the decree by 159 votes to 104. It had already been approved by the lower house Chamber of Deputies.

The decree reduces lengthy bankruptcy proceedings and help banks recover collateral on bad loans more quickly. The government is hoping to foster a market for bad loans which is currently almost non-existent in Italy.

The country is slowly emerging from a three-year recession that has left its lenders saddled with some 350 billion euros ($390 billion) of loans that have gone sour. That forces them to set aside capital to cover for potential losses and crimps their ability to lend to households and companies.

The Ilva steelworks in the southern city of Taranto has Europe’s largest output capacity at 11 million tonnes. It is producing much less than that after being put under special administration in 2013 and is losing tens of millions of euros a month.

The government decree blocks an order by magistrates to shut down a furnace after a worker died there. That would have left the factory with only one functioning furnace out of five.

The legislation prevents companies considered of strategic importance from being seized by magistrates on safety grounds. (Reporting By Gavin Jones)

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