The deadline to conclude the sale of the Ilva group to ArcelorMittal could be postponed by a maximum of 90 days from the previous date set for the beginning of July, Kallanish learns from sources.
ArcelorMittal is expected to take control of Ilva at the beginning of July, according to the existing contract signed with the Italian authorities when the Luxembourg-headquartered group's bid was accepted. The political uncertainty in recent months as well as the lack of an official agreement between ArcelorMittal and the local unions could nevertheless support the possibility of postponing the deadline until beginning of October.
This week, trade unions in Taranto have called for the government to apply such a delay in order to have the time to further discuss the deal. The main party in the new government that took up office in Italy at the beginning of June has in the past openly talked about the possibility of closing steelmaking in Taranto. In addition, a number of outstanding labour issues still exist.
The possibility of postponing the deadline has also been confirmed by Carlo Calenda, the former minister for economic development who was central to the signing of the contract with ArcelorMittal. He is now strongly voicing his concerns about the possible closure of the Taranto steelmaking plant.
Meanwhile ArcelorMittal is still continuing to target the closing of the transaction as per the original agreement. "Our discussions with Ilva’s trade unions continue, and we hope to reach an agreement. We are still targeting closing the transaction by the end of this month," a company spokesperson tells Kallanish.
A delay could give enough time for the new government to further evaluate some of the final aspects of the deal yet to be agreed with ArcelorMittal. Sources in the Italian steel market confirm however that the uncertainty is having a direct impact on both prices and supply. “Coil prices in Italy are suffering more than in other parts of Europe despite the lack of competition from imports because buyers have the possibility to negotiate bigger discounts with their main domestic supplier compared with other countries in Europe,” a trader explains, He adds that any further delay in the conclusion of the issue would add to market uncertainty.