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Italian PM Renzi and JSW's Jindal hold steel investment talks

world Updated: Sep 06, 2014 20:12 IST
Matteo Renzi

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held talks with JSW Steel Chairman Sajjan Jindal on Saturday, a government official said, as the Indian tycoon weighs investments in the country's Lucchini and Ilva steelmakers.

"The focus of the conversation was the issue of industrial policy, and of investments in Italy's steel sector," said an official, who declined to be identified.

Industry Minister Federica Guidi was also at the meeting, which took place in Renzi's home town of Florence, the official said.

JSW is considering buying the troubled Ilva steel plant in southern Italy, union sources said on Thursday, and is bidding for insolvent Italian steelmaker Lucchini.

Thousands of jobs are at stake as Italy's steel industry struggles to cope with falling demand and the country's economy, the euro zone's third-biggest, is mired in its third recession in six years.

Ilva, privately owned by the Riva family, is Europe's largest steel plant by output capacity and is of strategic importance to the southern European steel sector, where it supplies carmakers and other manufacturers.

But the factory, located in the southern port city of Taranto, is at the centre of an environmental scandal which led the Italian government to place it under "special administration", a procedure designed to save large companies and avoid job losses.

Lucchini, formerly owned by Russia's Severstal, was declared insolvent in 2012 and also has been placed under special administration.

In a separate meeting Jindal held with a top official from Tuscany's regional government on Saturday, the Indian tycoon said his goal would be to process steel at the Tuscan port city of Piombino, where Lucchini has most of its assets, by the end of the year, Tuscany's President Enrico Rossi told reporters.

In a break with JSW's previously reported plan to not produce steel at Piombino, which Italy's main steel workers' union opposed, Rossi said that Jindal told him that he would present an industrial plan next year that foresees the factory making steel within the next two years.