PARIS – A lack of French political enthusiasm for an exchange of shares between Naval Group and Fincantieri is slowing work on a cross-border alliance between French and Italian shipbuilders, an industry executive told Defense News.
“Bercy is not keen,” said the executive, referring to the French Economy and Finance Ministry, located in a vast modern building resembling a bridge by the river Seine. The government's reluctance to a proposed cross-shareholding of five to 10 percent is rooted in political concerns, according to the official, who asked not be named while discussing sensitive deliberations.
“Negotiations take time,” a source at the Armed Forces Ministry said. “We need more time.”
The French government’s position was first reported by business weekly Challenges on Wednesday. A lack of French political support for an exchange of equity stakes means the partnership project, dubbed Poseidon, is “taking water,” the magazine wrote.
Competition flares up for the follow-on portion of a deal previously won by the French shipbuilder.
The proposed cross-shareholding scheme stems from a business model forged by French car maker Renault, which swapped its shares for those of its Japanese partners Mitsubishi and Nissan.
There would not be a “golden share” veto in the proposed cross-shareholding between Naval Group and Fincantieri, the industry executive said. While there is no formal deadline for a deal, the upcoming Euronaval trade show here was seen as “an opportunity, an accelerator” for an announcement, the source added. Meanwhile, talks are continuing with the monthly meeting of a bilateral steering committee.
Euronaval runs Oct. 23 to 26.
Some 28 percent of Fincantieri is traded on the Milan stock exchange and the rest is held by the Italian Economy and Finance Ministry. Naval Group is held by the French government, with electronics company Thales owning 35 percent.
A Franco-Italian alliance in naval shipbuilding is seen as a major step toward European industrial consolidation.