Fincantieri’s Bid for STX France Viewed Favorably by French Government

FILE PHOTO Shipbuilders ride past a giant poster November 9, 2016 at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

FILE PHOTO Shipbuilders ride past a giant poster November 9, 2016 at the STX Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

By Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS, Jan 4 (Reuters) – A leading French minister expressed support on Wednesday for a bid by Italy’s Fincantieri’s for shipbuilder STX France, adding that the government would aim to keep the shipbuilder’s main site running at Saint Nazaire.

“We said we wanted a European, industrial company … Fincantieri is a European, industrial company. So it would be hard for us to say ‘no’ to them,” French Industry Minister Christophe Sirugue told RMC Radio.

The sale of STX France, which specialises in building cruise ships at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard and is profitable, forms part of a broader sell-off of businesses following the demise of the South Korean STX shipbuilding group.

The French state owns 33 percent of STX France, and Sirugue said the government was keen to keep the Saint Nazaire site in the west of the country.

Italy’s 230-year old Fincantieri makes a wide range of vessels from cruise ships to military aircraft carriers, and acquiring STX France would boost its presence in the cruise shipbuilding part of the market.

Sirugue said France wanted state-controlled military shipbuilder DCNS, in which Thales holds around 35 percent, to take a minority stake in STX France that would definitely be below 50 percent of the company.

Saint Nazaire’s high point last year was production of the largest passenger ship ever built, the ‘Harmony of the Seas’. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Ulysseas project – the new expedition cruise ship design

In March 2015, the major shipbuilder STX France unveiled a revolutionary new expedition ship design named “Ulysseas”. It represents an innovative idea for a small cruise ship (passenger capacity 200, ice-class hull, length 476 ft / 145 m, cruising speed 17 kn / 20 mph / 31 kmh) aimed at the expedition cruising market.

Ulysseas cruise ship design

The main reason for the Ulysseas project is that currently, the expedition cruise market uses mostly second-hand vessels. Unique for this new ship design is the excessive usage of glass (in all public areas) and the French balconies (false balconies) on all passenger cabins. Every passenger-use facility on the new vessel features floor-ceiling windows. There will be an unique forward-located observation lounge for 360-degree views.

The Ulysseas ship’s aft-section is an STX-patented design for saving energy. This is a movable duck-tail, which position depends on cruising speeds and weather conditions. The vessel will be powered by two 2.5 MWT azipods (rotating at 360° Azimuth thrusters), with four diesel-electric generators and one scrubber. This cruise ship design also features a helipad (helicopter landing pad), a helicopter storage space (inside the ship), zodiac boats for ship-to-shore operations.