French construction group Vinci urges peers to join Notre-Dame repair effort

View of Notre-Dame Cathedral after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic gem in Paris, France April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Construction group Vinci called on all building companies in France to join forces to repair Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral in an “industry-wide skills sponsorship drive”.

The Fondation du Patrimoine (French heritage foundation) could possibly lead the effort, so as to begin work and restore the cathedral as quickly as possible following Monday’s devastating fire, said Vinci.

“The partial destruction of Notre-Dame is an unqualified tragedy. The 13th century wooden beams holding up the roof will never be replaced. But the part of Notre-Dame that has survived the fire must be safeguarded,” the company said in a statement.

Rival construction group Bouygues also said it was ready to join a “skills sponsorship” drive to restore the cathedral.

Separately, the Bouygues company’s CEO Martin Bouygues and his brother Olivier said they will personally donate 10 million euros ($11.30 million) jointly to the cathedral repairs fund.

Vinci has expertise in heritage preservation since its sponsorship operation restoring the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles about 15 years ago.

It also recently renovated Paris’ historic ‘Penthemont’ Abbey that has become the site of the new headquarters of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta/Inti Landauro