by Christopher Freeburn | November 26, 2012 9:45 am
Plans to shutter two blast furnaces in France have put ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) in the crosshairs of the country’s new socialist government.
On Monday, French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said the Luxembourg-based steel producer had failed to respect his country and that the French government “no longer wanted” ArcelorMittal in France, Reuters noted.
The latest salvo between the company and the government of President Francois Hollande came after Montebourg threatened to nationalize ArcelorMittal’s blast furnaces in northeastern France and seek a buyer on its own. The company has announced plans to close the furnaces unless a buyer can be found.
Montebourg accused ArcelorMittal of telling “shameful lies” about its intentions regarding the furnaces. He also indicated that the company had reneged on past pledges to the government.
ArcelorMittal officials were reportedly stunned by the ferocity of Montebourg’s attack. The industry minister hinted that the government had received offers to acquire the furnaces and other ArcelorMittal assets in France but didn’t provide details.
Hollande’s government has made reinvigorating France’s declining industrial sector a keystone of its agenda. French unemployment remains at 10%, a 13-year high.
Shares of ArcelorMittal fell more than 1% in Monday morning trading in New York.
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