Milan - “Investments in ILVA’s vertical products are an essential element of the industrial plan. We must push for verticalization. In Genoa, the future manager will find the new galvanisation line 5, in which we have invested over €8 million, and tin-plate line 4 revamped for €400,000. He will make the decision about new investments.” Enrico Laghi, ILVA’s Special Commissioner, explains the latest results achieved by the Cornigliano steel plan in an exclusive interview with Il Secolo XIX-The MediTelegraph and tries to sketch out the future of what he himself calls “an industrial site that has aroused great interest among the companies that have made inspection visits.” He was referring to the two cartels that are competing to operate the group’s three sites in Italy: Genoa, Novi Ligure and Taranto.
The competitors are ArcelorMittal and Marcegaglia, on one hand, and AcciaItalia, on the other, which was formed by CDP, Arvedi and Del Vecchio’s Delfin (a groupage that Jindal could join). Laghi explained that next week the Ministry should announce its decision on the environmental plan for Taranto, after the commissioners evaluate the industrial plans and the financial offers. “In January we are counting on identifying the winning offer, then we will need time to implement conditions precedent such as AIA and Antitrust regulation. The operation could be complete by June. The sale calls for the leasing of the assets in the first phase, not their sale.”The ILVA Cornigliano plant - the only one in Italy that is equipped with tin production facilities in a country that consumes 800,000 tons of tin per year - will play an essential role in the sale process. “In 2015, 45,000 tonnes of tin-plate were produced and 40,000 tonnes of tin-free steel,” the commissioner said. “This year we will increase production to 100,000 tonnes in total. Further growth in production will depend on the choices that are made by the new investor. Vertical products ensure greater margins than the raw material. I believe that whoever takes over ILVA will make new investments in Genoa in this direction, but not until the environmental plan for Taranto has been completed, since it is a priority: until then I believe that only maintenance will be done at Cornigliano.”
In any case, according to Laghi this should not be a problem: “The facilities are in satisfactory condition, everyone who has inspected them has had a positive impression of them. We found that there was great interest in Cornigliano, also because of the strategic position of the plant, its access to the sea.”
The plan to sell steel production areas and activities, calls for the new operator to receive the entire space in Genoa that was once given in concession to the Riva family: one million square metres, hundreds of thousands of square metres of which are currently not in use. “It is up to the new investor to decide what to do with the unused space,” the commissioner confirmed. “But I don’t believe it will stay empty for long. In the meantime, the commissioner’s regime will pursue opportunities if there are serious ones that are advantageous for everyone, as was the case with Ansaldo Energia, and in a very short time frame. Should there be opportunities, we are ready to move, but at the moment there is no concrete proposal for new activities in the areas that could be put to use quickly.”
There has been speculation about the labour force, the commissioner explained, “first and foremost Ansaldo Energia, but they weren’t sufficiently specific, or had a general accord, also, in a few cases, there were projects that could hinder steel production, which remains the priority.” The ILVA group has estimated that it will close out 2016 with 5.9 million tonnes of steel produced and 5.5 million shipped. “The EBITDA will be better than in 2015. The numbers are looking better because prices increased for the entire product range, we reduced the delays in delivery that had resulted in penalties, the production process improved in the first and second quality, and we increased verticalized production which has greater margins.” But if the Genoa and Novi Ligure plants make the group appealing, the situation in Taranto is more complex.
In the worst case, would ILVA Cornigliano have a sustainable future even on its own with its tin and galvanisation production, and acquiring the coils that now come from Apulia, elsewhere? “We have not received any offers for the acquisition of the individual sites in Genoa and Novi Ligure without Taranto. The group’s strength is still the complete cycle.” What do you think ILVA will look like in five years? “The excess productive capacity at the Italian and European level will require a consolidation in the sector in the coming years. In this context, ILVA is not the company to shut down - if anything, it will be the instrument of consolidation.”