"We will get there!": Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire was very confident about a positive result in the Ascoval case by going Thursday morning to meet the unions and employees of the steelworks, controlled administration.
We will get there thanks to you Every day counts, it is because we are gathered that we will get there, we have the same battle, I hope there will be a confirmed recovery, "he said at a meeting on the site of the plant unions, elected officials and the president of Ascoval, Cédric Orban.
Announced Wednesday by Bercy, this visit – the first of the Minister of Economy – intervenes while the 281 employees of the company resumed work on Monday, after more than a week of blocking, awaiting a court decision on the proposed acquisition by of the Franco-Belgian group Altifort.
This decision will finally be taken on December 12, announced Wednesday the Chamber of Commerce of the High Court of Strasbourg. This new deadline is destined to refine the offer of Altifort and to reach an agreement with Vallourec, shareholder and main customer of steel mills.
"I have been determined to do everything possible to save the Ascoval steel mill from the start, I am even more after this visit, I saw a 21st century company, not a 20th century company ", said Le Mayor.
"The state is not there to save a lame duck, it is there to defend a steelmaker that is efficient, which makes quality steels, with a production tool that will be more environmentally friendly of others He insisted, saying that his determination to save the factory was "total".
– "Close the financing plan" –
Nacim Bardi, CGT delegate, then said "reassured": "He came to discover that we had a powerful tool, new, recent, I hope the story ends well," he told AFP. "I remain reassured by the fact that today the state speaks the same language as us (…) All possibilities are on our side," said Bruno Kopczynski, spokesperson for the union coordination.
After becoming Ascoval in 2017, the Saint-Saulve steel mill waited for a purchaser from the legal liquidation in February 2018 of the Asco Industries group, to which Vallourec sold 60% of the plant, maintaining 40% of the order commitments.
At the end of January 2018, Swiss Schmolz + Bickenbach acquired most of Asco Industries assets, without including Ascoval in the context of this acquisition. As a result, Acoval had gone in search of its buyer.
At the end of October, the steel industry's horizon had become clear when Altifort's plan to take over the plant was considered "solid" and "credible" by Bercy and Roland Berger, the independent consulting firm. The government had said it wanted to resolve the issue by "early December".
The initial offer of Altifort implied that Vallourec would maintain its current level of orders for a year and a half, but the steel producer refused, forcing the government and the Franco-Belgian group to work on a proposal alternative with sources of financing and additional customers.
"There are still difficulties today, everyone knows it, we have to complete the financing plan, an order book that is full, we have to find an agreement with Vallourec on one or two points, but we work every day" The mayor said.
"Several steps have been taken: firstly, it has been shown that this business is vital, and the second, we have assembled the buyer, is not a joke", said the press after the visit by Xavier Bertrand, president ( ex LR) Hauts-de-France. "Vallourec must stop putting the wheel of this project of recovery," he repeated.