Alcoa’s recently-sold smelter at Portovesme has already found a private-sector buyer, as Swiss firm Sider Alloys is on the cusp of closing a deal to purchase the plant from the Italian government.
Per industry media, Sider Alloys is planning to close the transaction by mid-February. The assets of Alcoa Italy will still pass through the hands of the Italian government’s investment branch Invitalia, but it will remain the possession of the state only briefly.
According to the union source, the state designed the sales plan in this manner in order to shield Alcoa from responsibility for an incoming investor’s potential failure at reviving the business. This is the first time a deal has been carried out in this manner by the Italian government.
Though no sales figures were released, it is a small cog in a US$161-million to US$173-million plan by the Italian government to spin up operations at the plant, which it considers to be a strategically-important enterprise. Citing information put forth in a meeting last week between Italian state officials and representatives from Alcoa, the state is projected to spend around US$112 million on the project via tax incentives according to a source.
In addition, the current plan envisions re-hiring the entirety of the active workforce that was at the plant at the time of its shuttering in 2012. According to union sources, further details will be hashed out in meetings with the relevant trade unions next month.
The government holds the Portovesme smelter in such high esteem due to its tremendous contribution to the country’s aluminium demand. The smelter filled around 80 percent of the aluminium demand from the domestic automotive, aerospace, construction, and packaging sectors.
The smelter has been on the market since 2011, when Alcoa began shopping it around as part of the company’s cost-cutting measures.