Trieste - Italian shipyard Fincantieri will decide by the end of December whether to go ahead with its bid for France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique even if the European Union has not issued a decision to clear or block the deal by then, its chairman said.
State-controlled Fincantieri signed an agreement in February 2018 to buy 50% of the French group from the Paris government for 59.7 million euros ($72.4 million). But EU authorities have suspended an examination of the deal pending the provision of more data, which the companies say is difficult to provide when the cruise ship industry is in deep crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "The agreement with the French expires on Dec. 31 and we expect the EU commission to take a decision by then," Fincantieri's Chairman Giampiero Massolo told Reuters.
"If not we'll have to decide whether Chantiers is still a good deal," he said, adding that no further concessions could be offered given the market conditions. Italy sees the deal by Europe's largest shipyard as an opportunity to create an European champion in the shipbuilding industry to compete with rivals from Asia and other regions.EU antitrust enforcers worry the deal between two global leaders in an already concentrated and capacity-constrained market could push up prices for cruise ships. The European Commission suspended its investigation into the deal in March as it awaited data it had requested. The Fincantieri chairman, who is also a senior Italian diplomat, said the data requested were hard to provide when travel restrictions had hammered the industry.
He urged the European authorities not to cause the collapse of a deal that was sealed by the two governments in 2017. "Three years passed by and the EU commission carries now the responsibility of quashing an European champion that could compete against the Asian ones," he said.