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Business

Germany Rejects French Shipbuilding Plan

The German government does not believe that the concept put forward by the French government for the creation of a European shipbuilding giant is workable, the business daily Handelsblatt reported on Thursday. Berlin objected to the idea of merging French naval shipbuilders DCN and French defense electronics group Thales with the corresponding activities of German firms ThyssenKrupp and HDW to form a European giant similar to EADS in the aerospace sector, because DCN is still state-owned, the newspaper reported quoting German economy ministry sources. Any tie-up would have to be between private-sector companies in order to ensure that it was a merger of equals, the sources were quoted as saying. The shipyards would therefore have to be privatized first and made profitable before a merger could go ahead. Similarly, Berlin rejected the proposal by French Economy Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that the loss-making civilian shipbuilding activities of French group Alstom should be incorporated into any EADS-like tie-up. Alstom has been looking for a buyer for its loss-making shipyards for years. It was such differences between Sarkozy and his German counterpart Wolfgang Clement over European industrial policy that were behind the last-minute cancellation of a planned meeting of the two ministers on Thursday, Handelsblatt said. The German government said Clement called off the meeting at the last minute late Wednesday citing the difficult situation at General Motors's German unit Opel. (AFP)