ArcelorMittal, France target steelworks deal

The French government and steelmaker ArcelorMittal are aiming to clinch a deal to save jobs and avoid a temporary nationalisation of its Florange steelworks, government sources said on Friday as a midnight deadline neared. ArcelorMittal says the site's two furnaces are not viable but Socialist President Francois Hollande wants them kept open and has threatened a controversial state takeover for the site in northeastern France if no private buyer is found.

The two furnaces together employ 600 workers with the entire site providing work for 2,700. Sources close to Hollande said talks could stretch beyond the deadline set for an accord by ArcelorMittal, but no comment was available from the company.

"My aim is to find a long-term solution in terms of both jobs and activities for the Florange site," Hollande said.

A deal this weekend could bring concessions from both parties, including promises from ArcelorMittal to offer new jobs to all workers affected by a shutdown of the furnaces and large new investments in France.

Business leader denounces French plan

The head of France's employers' union branded government plans to take over ArcelorMittal's Florange steelworks as "scandalous" on Thursday, leading the government to accuse her of overlooking the company's practices. But MEDEF employers' union chief Laurence Parisot said nationalising the steelworks went against the principle of private property, after industry minister Arnaud Montebourg said the government was ready for a temporary takeover. "This statement is purely and simply scandalous," Parisot said. "To undermine the principle of private property in this haphazard way is very serious and, what's more, very costly."

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