In Terni it says: “This steelworks was founded in 1885 by the Italian State. Here, in Taranto, the plaque is not there. But perhaps it should be written: “This steelworks was founded in 1960 by the Italian State”. When these revolutions are made, they must be supported by large institutions. The CEO of Acciaierie d’Italia, the former Ilva, Lucia Morselli, has clear ideas on this matter. And she reiterated them on Thursday 16 November in a seminar hosted at the Taranto industrial site on the decarbonisation of the steel industry. The revolution to which it refers is in fact that of green steel for which the scientific and economic part must go in parallel. Hence the question that Morselli posed to the audience of engineers gathered in Puglia which will also be at the center of the Acciaierie d’Italia assembly on November 23rd: Who pays the bill for decarbonisation?. The response of Morselli – and of ArcelorMittal, majority shareholder of Acciaierie d’Italia with 62% (the remaining 38% belongs to the public Invitalia) – is obvious: I think that the States, as happens in large European States, must intervene and Italy must also play its role.
The public-private contrast
For some time now, within the largest steelworks in Italy, the two souls have been comparing (and often contrasting) one another: the public one and the private one. On November 23rd they will inevitably have to find a meeting point: because the time has come to understand who, and in what proportion, will put – immediately – the approximately 300 million needed to move forward and – subsequently – the 4.6 billion needed , in 8 years, for decarbonization and the return to the production of 8 million tons of steel. As foreseen in the memorandum of understanding signed by the government with ArcelorMittal last 11 September in which the government undertakes to finance the plan with 2.27 billion (using RePowerEu or other European funds), with the remaining 2.35 billion load of Acciaierie d’Italia. But in what proportions will Adi’s public and private partners do so? This is the knot to untie. Which, moreover, is the first item on the agenda of the meeting: industrial plan and measures to strengthen the company’s financial system. The solution shared between the members must be found in the days remaining until the November 23rd meeting.
The role of Fitto and Invitalia
For this reason, according to what transpires from sources close to the negotiation, ArcelorMittal has asked the Minister for European Affairs Raffaele Fitto – who has taken over the former Ilva dossier, previously assigned to his colleague Adolfo Urso, since last July, since his amendment was approved in the EU Policy Committee of the Senate, during the conversion of the Save Infractions decree – to instruct Invitalia in view of the meeting so that the public shareholder expresses the will of Palazzo Chigi with his vote. To avoid short circuits like the one that occurred after the signing of the memorandum when the leaders of the public partner (appointed by the Draghi government), and in particular the CEO Bernardo Mattarella, accused the management and way of acting of the private partner ArcelorMittal.
What will the resigning Bernab do?
One of the many contrasts between the two souls of the company, as well as that which concerns the second point on the agenda, the resignation of the president of the holding Franco Bernab (of public expression, with the directors Ernesto Somma and Tiziana De Luca, to whom Lucia Morselli, Eric Niedziela and Ondra Otradovec join the private board of directors). Both Bernab and Morselli agree on the need for at least 300 million immediately to purchase the raw materials, to produce and keep the machine moving. But the private soul of Acciaierie d’Italia contests the public one represented by Bernab for having, in a certain sense, operated in the opposite direction by announcing its desire to resign for some time (aimed, according to the president, to instead highlight the need for resources ), complicating the possibility of obtaining the necessary sum with a loan from a pool of banks coordinated by Mediobanca. Evidently worried afterwards the alarm launched by Bernab himself in front of an institutional audience such as the Productive Activities Commission of the Chamber: Without resources, society shuts down due to consumption.
Who provides the resources?
How do we get out of this public-private opposition? Certainly not with nationalization – as the unions, very critical of ArcelorMittal’s management, would like – at least as long as the dossier remains in the hands of Fitto, who has always been against it: Invitalia, contrary to what was decided in previous agreements, will not increase ( from 2024, but an advance to 2023 was also considered) the stake in Acciaierie d’Italia from the current 38 to 60%, with a consequent change in governance. A mediation between the two souls will be found, as on the occasion of the 750 million – 680 from public sources and 70 from private sources in the form of credit waivers – of the latest liquidity injection decided a year ago by the Council of Ministers. In that case the balance was reached, the same must be done both for the 300 million needed immediately and for the 4.6 billion in the long term. Moreover, even Morselli and the private partner ArcelorMittal know it, as put in black and white in the memorandum of understanding: there cannot be local solutions for a multinational company, there cannot be only public support if one does not want to stumble upon state aid . Only how much and how remains to be decided: the guideline is that the private shareholder renounces dividends for the next few years, creating value in Italy; and that the State supports steel by accepting the country’s competitiveness as a dividend.
Corriere della Sera also on Whatsapp. It’s enough click here to subscribe to the channel and always be updated.