French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg does not want steel giant ArcelorMittal in France anymore and is looking for an industrial partner with which to take the group's operations there over on a temporary basis, he said today in an interview.
"We do not want Mittal in France any longer because they do not respect France," Montebourg told the French financial daily Les Echos.
"Mittal's lies since 2006 are damning," the French minister said, adding that the company "has never honoured its commitments" to the country.
ArcelorMittal has shut down blast furnaces in Florange, eastern France, but wants to maintain its other activities there, in what has become a showdown with the new Socialist government in France.
Montebourg told Les Echos he was working on a "transitory nationalisation" project for the site. The newspaper said that "the idea would be to associate an industrial operator with a minority capital stake for as long as it takes to stabilise activity" at the plant.
On October 1, ArcelorMittal said it would shut down the furnaces for good and gave the French government two months to find a buyer.
With the Saturday deadline approaching rapidly, tension between the steel giant and France has risen sharply because the government says it has two offers, but only for the entire site.
After Mittal refused to sell the entire operation, Montebourg raised the threat of a temporary nationalisation in a hearing before French senators last week.
That was followed by Mittal warning that a sale of the entire Florange site would threaten the viability of the rest of ArcelorMittal's activities in France, where the group says it employs 20,000 workers.