Italy Must Recover EUR84 Million From Steelmaker Ilva in European Commission Ruling

By Pietro LombardiFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Italy must recover about 84 million euros ($99.6 million) from Italian steelmaker Ilva after an investigation determined the company received illegal state aid, the European Commission said Thursday.

The investigation, which began in January 2016 after European authorities received several complaints from Ilva competitors, focused on five measures. Two of these--loans Italy granted Ilva in 2015--violated European Union rules on state aid, the commission said.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the loans gave Ilva "an undue advantage to finance its current operations."

The EUR84 million represents the difference between financing terms Ilva received from the government and appropriate market terms.

The commission didn't take issue, however, with the more-than EUR1.1 billion transferred from the owners of Ilva to the company in June, to be used to tackle pollution at the Taranto plant.

The decision on aid "does not interfere with the sales process of Ilva assets, in relation to which a separate commission investigation is ongoing under EU merger rules," the commission said.

Italy is in the process of selling Ilva assets to a consortium led by ArcelorMittal.

"The best guarantee for a sustainable future of steel production in the Taranto region is the sale of Ilva's assets at market terms," Ms. Vestager said, adding that the company "cannot rely on artificial State support."

Write to Pietro Lombardi at pietro.lombardi@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 07:45 ET (12:45 GMT)