Backlash as Mittal tries to close two blast furnaces in France
Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel magnate, has been hit by criticism from across the French political spectrum in a bitter dispute over his plans to close two blast furnaces in the industrially blighted Lorraine region. The backlash came as Mr Mittal met President François Hollande in Paris in an attempt to break the impasse over the dispute. Senior politicians distanced themselves from inflammatory comments made this week by Arnaud Montebourg, the leftwing firebrand industry minister, who accused ArcelorMittal of engaging in “blackmail” and “lies” and said it should quit France. But there was broad cross-party support for his threat to nationalise temporarily the site that houses the furnaces.
Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister, said: “What is envisaged is a temporary operation. . . . We are determined that French industry is protected and defended.” – Copyright 2012 the Financial Times Limited