STX France: New orders and a surprise for Fincantieri

French President Emmanuel Macron had a surprise for Fincantieri under his hard hat when he visited STX France this week French President Emmanuel Macron had a surprise for Fincantieri under his hard hat when he visited STX France this week

JUNE 1, 2017 — French President Emmanuel Macron visited the STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire yesterday as MSC Cruises took delivery of its new flagship, the 171,598 GRT, 5,714 passenger Meraviglia. At the flag change ceremony,  the two companies signed a new memorandum of understanding firming up the order of two 200,000 GRT, LNG-fueled mega cruise ships, with options for two additional vessels. The four ships will become MSC Cruises' World Class. 

MSC Cruises' World Class cruise ships will feature 2,760 staterooms and a maximum occupancy of 6,850 guests, the highest passenger capacity in the global cruise fleet. The vessels, which will be delivered in 2022 and 2024 – the options are for 2025 and 2026 – will have a length of 1,083 ft. and a 154 ft of beam.

Speaking at the MSC Meraviglia Flag Ceremony, Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises' Executive Chairman, said: "Today, as we unveil MSC Meraviglia, a new vessel that marks the start of the next phase of our growth, we are delighted to confirm another key component of our ten-year investment plan: the World Class. These new vessels will further expand our partnership with STX France all the way to 2026, with up to seven additional innovative ships to be built during this period."


According to French newspaper Le Monde, the agreement between STX France also included a second part that "was much less anticipated."

It relates to the acquisition of STX France by Fincantieri.

Fincantieri reported last month that it has now signed today a share purchase agreement for the acquisition of 66.66% of the share capital of shipbuilder STX France from its current shareholder STX Europe AS and that continued "to negotiate with the French State for the finalization of the shareholders’ agreement for STX France in accordance with the Heads of Terms signed on April 12."

Under that outline agreement Fincantieri had agreed to hold only a minority of 48%. Le Monde notes that Italians would nevertheless have gained control of the shipbuilder thanks to 6% being held by a private charitable foundation, the Fondazione CR Trieste, at 6%. The rest of the capital would be divided between the French State (33%) and French public company DCNS.

Among French concerns is that STX France would be second in line after Fincantieri and that French cruise ship knowhow would be leaked to China, with whom Fincantieri has a shipbuilding agreement.

"I heard the concerns expressed, " Le Monde quotes President Macron as saying Wednesday . "That is why I hope that the principle balances found in April 2017 can be revised. Under no circumstances should there be, due to future ownership, choices that can favor one site against another and weaken jobs in Saint-Nazaire. "

Macron's plan, says Le Monde, "consists of removing the Italian foundation, considered by many as a false nose of Fincantieri. In its place would enter MSC and Royal Caribbean Cruises, the two main customers of Saint-Nazaire. The two companies could jointly hold 10% of the capital. Anxious about Fincantieri's plans, the duo had several times attempted in recent months to mount a "Plan B", unsuccessfuly until now."

The shipowner's stakeholding would make it possible to limit Fincantieri to industrial operator with only a large minority. "And shipowners," says Le Monde, "would have the assurance that the new key shareholder will not take a decision against their interests."

Read the Le Monde story HERE

MSC's LNG fueled World Class

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