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Mittal to keep his end of the bargain on French plant

AFP  Paris, December 13, 2012
First Published: 21:36 IST(13/12/2012) | Last Updated: 22:31 IST(13/12/2012)

ArcelorMittal chief Lakshmi Mittal on Thursday vowed to keep all his commitments on a French steel plant that Paris had threatened to nationalise, a move he said had created ripples worldwide.


Mittal defended a last-ditch deal with France's Socialist government as "fair" in which ArcelorMittal would keep 629 jobs and invest at least $234 million over five years at the plant.

"Yes it was a fair agreement," Mittal told Le Figaro newspaper, in his first interview on the row over the fate of two blast furnaces that ArcelorMittal had said were no longer viable at a plant in Florange in northeastern France.

"It is in the interest of all concerned parties: our 20,000 employees, our clients and our shareholders," he said.

The French government and the steelmaker had been waging high-stakes brinkmanship for weeks over the fate of the two facilities. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault reached an eleventh-hour deal with the world's top steelmaker in which the fate of the furnaces was tied to a decision on an EU carbon capture project.

But unions have denounced the company's announcement as a trick and that it was ditching its bid to run an EU-funded "green steel" project at Florange due to technical difficulties.

The ULCOS project was regarded as crucial to reviving the idled furnaces. Mittal dismissed criticism by unions that the deal was a sell-out to his group.

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