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French state investment bank chose not to rescue refinery, steel mill

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

France's new state-backed investment bank BPI said Wednesday it chose not to help save a refinery and steel mill, the closures of which has been considered a failure of government efforts to save the nation's industrial base.

The BPI looked into possible efforts to revive production at a mill owned by steel-giant Arcelor Mittal "we would have lost a lot of money and it wouldn't have been good business," said the bank's director Nicolas Dufourcq.

Arcelor Mittal announced last week that it would begin shutting down the blast furnaces at its Florange facility.

The company had been threatened last year by a French minister with nationalisation of the site, ensuring affected workers would be found jobs in other activities at the facility.

Dufourcq said the bank also looked into helping a new investor into the Petroplus oil refinery, which is now facing closure after two bids take over the facility were rejected by the court overseeing its insolvency, but said BPI wanted to focus on projects with a future.

"Our agenda, that's France in 2030. Petroplus, is that the France of 2030?" he told AFP.

Some 470 staff at the Petit-Couronne refinery outside Rouen are expected to lose their jobs in the coming days.

The BPI, which held Wednesday the first meeting of its national advisory committee, was established by the government of President Francois Hollande to spur economic growth by lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.

It has 42 billion euros ($55 billion) in resources, including 10 for investment into the capital of companies.

Dufourcq said it would favour investment future growth sectors that offer perspectives of long-term profits, such biotechnology and clean energy technologies.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/french-state-investment-bank-chose-not-rescue-refinery-steel-mill