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Italy, France in talks over extension to Fincantieri-Chantiers shipbuilding deal -sources

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A view of Fincantieri shipyard is seen in Monfalcone near Trieste, Italy

PARIS/MILAN (Reuters) - Italy and France are in talks on a possible extension to Fincantieri's planned acquisition of Chantiers de l'Atlantique to create a European shipbuilding champion, two sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

No decision on the matter has been taken yet, they said.

One of the sources said a one-month extension was being considered for the offer, which is due to expire on Thursday after repeated deadline extensions over competition concerns.

The deal is still awaiting European antitrust approval in a market that has been completely transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Italian Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said separately that Rome was in talks with French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on the matter and planned to contact Brussels.

"Between today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) we will write a letter to (the EU Competition and Industry commissioners) (Margrethe) Vestager and (Thierry) Breton," Patuanelli said. He gave no further details.

Originally launched in 2018, the planned tie-up between state-controlled Fincantieri, Europe's biggest shipyard, and Chantiers de l'Atlantique was intended to create a European champion in cruise ship construction.

However, completion has been delayed by European Commission concerns that the merger of two global leaders in an already concentrated market could increase prices for cruise ships.

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris, Giuseppe Fonte and Angelo Amante in Rome, writing by Elisa Anzolin, editing by Susan Fenton)