A.Mittal: Great responsibility - Conte

PM welcomes Milan prosecutors' probe

(ANSA) - Rome, November 15 - Premier Giuseppe Conte said Friday that ArcelorMittal was "assuming a very great responsibility" in shutting down the former ILVA works in Taranto and quitting a deal to take over the group, and would pay damages in court.
    He said the government would not let the shutdown continue.
    Conte said the decision to stop production in Taranto, Europe's largest steelworks, "is a clear violation of the contractual commitments and grave damage to the national economy.
    (ArcelorMittal) will answer for this in a judicial forum both as far as compensation for damages is concerned and as far as the urgent procedure is concerned.".
    Conte said the government had filed its appeal against ArcelorMittal's pullout bid and welcomed a probe by Milan prosecutors into possible evidence of a crime in the planned exit.
    ArcelorMitttal CEO Lucia Morselli told unions it was now a "crime" to work in the Taranto blast furnace areas, and that "legally the contract must be dissolved".
    "We'd like to have a magic wand but we haven't got one," she said, reiterating that the lifting of a penal shield against prosecution for a cleanup of the highly polluting works in the Puglia city was grounds for the Franco-Indian giant, the world's largest steel group, to pull out.
    In the latest twist, she warned that the shutdown would boost emissions in Taranto, where emissions have already been linked to years of higher than normal cancer rates.
    The extraordinary commissioners of the former ILVA group's steel works earlier Friday filed an urgent petition to a Milan court to stop ArcelorMittal rescinding the contract to take over the group, including its troubled Taranto factory.
    The decision by the Franco-Indian steel giant, the world's largest, to pull out of the takeover deal has rocked Premier Conte's government.
    Unions say that the company has prepared a plan to gradually turn off the plant's furnaces and is determined to have pulled out by December 4, leaving the commissioners in charge of implementing the plan. ArcelorMittal said it needs to pull out citing the lifting of a 'penal shield' that protected managers involved in a clean up of the Taranto plant from prosecution and the necessity of shedding 5,000 workers across the group, which employs over 8,000 people in Taranto and some 3,000 more in Genoa and Novi Ligure.
    ArcelorMittal has "no legal right" to pull out of the deal, , Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli told A.Mittal executives at the summit with trade unions on the future of the group Friday.
    A.Mittal said that after the shutdown it will take six months to start up again.


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