“Ilva? We are the ideal solution”

Genoa - The comments came yesterday from the Franco-Indian giant ArcelorMittal, and on Wednesday, 22 June, it will be the turn of Turkey’s Erdemir Group.

di Gilda Ferrari

Genoa - The comments came yesterday from the Franco-Indian giant ArcelorMittal, and on Wednesday, 22 June, it will be the turn of Turkey’s Erdemir Group. The foreigners who are fighting it out to get their hands on Ilva, the largest steel facilities in Europe, must explain their intentions before the Italian Senate’s Industry Committee. But there is still no talk of actual industrial plans - namely of productive capacity and the number of jobs. Yesterday in the Industry Committee, Ondra Otradovec, the head of mergers and acquisitions for ArcelorMittal, together with the C.E.O. of ArcelorMittal Europe, Flat Geert Van Geert Poelvoorde presented their case. According to Otradovec, the joint venture between ArcelorMittal, the largest producer of steel in the world, at 97 million tonnes, and Italy’s Marcegaglia could provide “the ideal solution” to the problem of the rehabilitation and relaunch of Ilva, both from the industrial and financial points of view. The Franco-Indian company, which is based in Luxembourg and has offices in Paris and London, has formalised its alliance with Marcegaglia.

“However, we are open to the participation of other companies, especially the participation of [Italy’s state lender] Cassa Depositi e Prestiti if CDP wants it,” Otradovec said. Indeed, CDP is ready to acquire a minority stake along with the syndicate that makes the best offer. It is therefore no surprise that ArcelorMittal is interested in involving Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, which is the same goal that the syndicate formed by Erdemir and Arvedi is aiming for, to challenge their competitor with an alternative offer. The tenth decree on Ilva from the government, which moved the deadline for submission of offers from 23 May to 30 June – establishing the (not yet appointed) committee of experts which will have 4 months to evaluate the syndicates’ plans for environmental remediation - postpones the true problem of the sale of Ilva: how much do ArcelorMittal and Marcegaglia or Erdemir and Arvedi plan to produce in Taranto compared to its 8-9 million productive capacity? In relation to the planned production, how many redundancies will there be from the over 11,000 employees in Taranto and how many from the 1,700 in Genoa and 700 in Novi Ligure?

It is no coincidence that the union is very critical about yet another postponement from the government, justified by the need to verify the possible buyer’s environmental clean-up plan. “It is an excuse,” Rosario Rappa from National FIOM answers sharply, “There is an approved Hague authorisation for Ilva and requirements to be implemented. This gives the sense that the government has postponed the matter of steel production to avoid social tension during the referendum. But anyone who thinks that the union will stay quiet for 5 months (when the figures on production and therefore redundancies will be announced) has got it wrong. If the meeting that we have requested is not held we are ready to take new initiatives to fight this.” In the Senate Otradovec did not speak of figures, she said only that ArcelorMittal-Marcegaglia plans to maintain employment levels, “in line with the best industrial practices. We are thinking of increasing Ilva’s production to six million tonnes,” with the three blast furnaces (1, 2 and 4) that are currently in use. This level of production would be maintained “for the first two years” and would then increase. In 2015, when blast furnace 5 was shut down, which accounts for 40% of Ilva’s capacity on its own, Ilva produced 4.9 million tonnes of steel.