Paris (AFP)

The Italian-Swiss owner MSC has placed an order for 2 billion euros with the Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire for two new liners, available in 2025 and 2027 and powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), announced Sunday the Elysee.

This firm order is accompanied by the signing of two memorandums of understanding with the shipyards, potentially involving 4 billion euros of additional investment, the executive said, ahead of the "Choose France" summit on Monday in Versailles. .

In order to continue to convince that France is attractive despite the current social movements, Emmanuel Macron invited nearly 200 French and foreign bosses under the castle's bones, for the 3rd edition of this summit, and on the eve of the World Economic Forum from Davos.

Among other announcements in the framework of "Choose France" is the decision of Coca-Cola and its bottler to invest one billion euros over five years, half of which to strengthen their production and distribution network, and l other to develop and introduce products on the French market.

In addition, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca will invest 207 million euros over five years for the development of its factory in Dunkirk, where Mr. Macron is expected on Monday. The group will also devote at least an additional 248 million euros to partnerships with French research, and set up its European innovation center in Paris, thereby investing another 13 million euros.

In total, the announcements of Sunday evening concern nearly 4 billion euros of firm investments.

According to the Elysee Palace, the construction in Saint-Nazaire of the two new liners with 6,700 passengers each will generate "14 million hours of work, corresponding to 2,400 jobs for three and a half years".

The agreement also provides for the development of a new class of LNG liners as well as that of a new prototype of boats propelled partly under sail, effectively integrating the "best environmental innovations", the cruise sector. being regularly accused of polluting massively.

LNG is a fuel that does not emit sulfur dioxide and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20%, and fine particles by more than 95%.

The executive notes that these orders and memoranda of understanding are "in the wake of 15 boats already built by the shipyards for MSC over the past 20 years" and refers to "13 MSC ships" which will leave Saint-Nazaire in the decade to come.

Last November, the delivery to Saint-Nazaire of the "MSC Grandiosa" was preceded by the cutting of the first sheet of the "MSC Europa" from the World Class series. This ship, to be delivered in 2022, will be the first LNG-powered liner built in France.

It is this type of ocean liner that the Chantiers de l'Atlantique will therefore deliver in 2025 and 2027, the acquisition of which by the Italian Fincantieri is the subject of an in-depth investigation opened by the European Commission.

The European executive has until March 17 to decide on the takeover, which could harm competition in shipbuilding.

LRB-etr-lem-kd / tq / cbn

© 2020 AFP