A buyer has come forward for the Portovesme smelter, the plant formerly owned by Alcoa and now in the hands of the Italian government.
According to reports, Switzerland’s Sider Alloys has agreed to take title to the plant, with the transaction expected to close in only a few weeks. The Italian government will take ownership of the smelter and associated holdings prior to Sider’s ownership, but the state will not own the complex long.
Per a source from the plant’s labor union, the Italian government’s ownership is intended to act as a screen, shielding Alcoa from liability should the incoming investor fail to possess the financial resources to bring the plant back.
Though this deal is the first of its kind for the Italian government, policymakers say that the plant’s economic importance justifies such a measure. The source said that, should the deal with Sider for the plant be consummated, Sider expects to rehire the plant’s entire workforce. The exact plan to bring back Portovesme’s workforce is not known at the present time, as the plant’s union must still meet with management to develop a plan.
In addition to providing much-needed jobs for the area, the Portovesme smelter provides a significant quantity of Italy’s aluminium demand. According to government figures, the plant filled 80 percent of the country’s demand for aluminium, including providing the metal for Italy’s automotive, aerospace, construction, and packaging sectors.
No sales figures were released, but the transaction is part of a larger, US$161-million to US$173-million effort at reviving the plant. Per local reports, the Italian government expects to invest US$112 million in bringing the plant back to life, much of which consists of tax incentives.
Portovesme has been on the market since 2011, a casualty of Alcoa’s cost-cutting campaign. The plant was closed the next year, and has not been reopened since.
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