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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Fincantieri: what are the risks for the future?

Is the European Commission clearly analyzing?

Could the decision taken by the European Commission to stop -until the evaluation of all the documents- the acquisition of the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire (ex-STX) by Fincantieri jeopardize the future alliance in the military shipbuilding between the Italian company and the French Naval Group? The risk is concrete, especially if the political frictions between Italy and France should continue following the decision of the antitrust authorities of Paris (together with the German one) to ask an opinion to the European Commission at regarding of the acquisition of civilian shipyard, owned by the failed STX controlled by a Korean company. This is one of the most controversial decision take in Europe: how is it possible that nothing was said when it was bought from South Korea, and now that it is a company of a European country to do so, the Commission is blocking everything fearing the risk of "less competition at European and world level"? How will a true European common industry be able to compete with the US and Chinese giants?

A decision full of obscure points, especially because at the beginning of November the European Commission itself had suggested that the scope of the operation would not have led to its intervention; reading that had left Fincantieri (but also the Italian Government) to think that there would be no obstacle to the acquisition, not even from the French side because the government of Paris imposed its participation at 49% (with a 1% loaned to Fincantieri) in the new shipbuilding company. On the other hand, the tensions between the two governments that could now increase, have also been affected by the impact of the agreement to create a joint-venture between Fincantieri and Naval Group (which also controls 14.7% of shares of STX France).

If this European business "concentration" were to stop, how could be justified the existence of the Airbus aerospace company, which has eliminated competition in many sectors? And how should the European antitrust consider the continuous acquisitions of French Thales in electronics? The difference, in these cases, will be determined by the capacities of the various governments to deal with the other member countries of the European Union, as well as good relations with the European Commission and the political weight of this. A possible problem for Italy divided between eurosceptic positions, willing to challenge Brussels on economic issues and investment cuts.

M/A - 1217704

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