August 23, 2018 / 10:27 AM / 4 months ago

Italy says Ilva tender was irregular but Arcelor contract still valid

ROME, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Italian Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday the tender to sell the Ilva steel plant to industry giant ArcelorMittal was illegitimate but it was not the fault of Arcelor and the sale to the company might still go ahead.

Citing an opinion by the state lawyers, Di Maio said Arcelor had been awarded the tender for Europe’s largest steel plant without rival companies being allowed to improve the terms of their initial bids.

“As fare as we are concerned the tender was illegitimate,” said Di Maio, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement that governs with the right-wing League.

Di Maio said if other companies were to make fresh offers for Ilva there could be the grounds to annul the tender, but the contract with the Franco-Indian multinational remained valid.

He said the previous centre-left government was to blame for the “illegitimate” tender, not ARcelor, which had “always acted in good faith,” and he confirmed that a Sept. 15 deadline to complete the sale to Mittal was still in place.

Reporting by Alberto Sisto, writing by Gavin Jones, editing by Giulia Segreti

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