Italian steel companies battle for survival
Italian steel bosses are worried about expropriation due to numerous legal tussles they are facing.
Industry sources said that Italy’s Ilva, Europe’s largest steel plant, is planning to restart a furnace to boost production from late October, unaffected by a court ordered freeze on assets of its owner, the Riva family.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that the southern Italian plant, at the centre of a lengthy environmental scandal, will restart a blast furnace with a capacity of about 2 million tonnes per year, which will allow it to increase annual production to around 7.5 million tonnes.
Unlike Ilva, sister company Riva Acciaio halted operations at plants in northern Italy last week and sent home 1,400 workers after its funds were frozen as part of a probe into alleged environmental crimes at Ilva. Both Ilva and Riva Acciaio belong to the Riva family.
Earlier this year, tax police said they would seize assets worth EUR 8.1 billion from the Riva family, and a seizure order stemming from the proceedings was handed to Riva Acciaio last week, blocking its banking operations.
The halt at Riva Acciaio, which produces around 1.5 million tonnes of long steel products a year, is damaging steelmakers and their suppliers, whose combined annual turnover from the domestic market alone amounts to EUR 1.8 billion Italian business lobby Confindustria said.
One of the source said that “Ilva has not been affected by the latest seizure. It is currently running with two out of its five furnaces, and it will restart a third furnace in October.”
Sources said that two Ilva affiliates Taranto Energia and Ilva Servizi Marittimi which provide energy and shipping services to the steel operation, were included in last week’s seizure, but this has had no immediate impact on Ilva’s output.
The second sources said that “They have blocked the bank account of Taranto Energia, which made it impossible (for Taranto) to pay wages, but Ilva has guaranteed the company’s payments (including the wages), so there is no immediate impact.”
Source - Reuters