Both parties are committed to the ongoing takeover negotiations, said Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Minister of Economic Affairs, on Thursday. The Finnish Government is alongside Meyer Werft, a traditional German shipbuilder, mulling over acquiring the troubled Turku-based shipyard of STX Finland.

“After a thorough assessment, the state has found a serious industrial partner, Meyer Werft, that has extensive and high-quality expertise in shipbuilding operations,” Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Minister of Economic Affairs, stated in a bulletin on Thursday.

The negotiations with Meyer Werft, Vapaavuori revealed, began already before Christmas.

“[The acquisition] is by no means yet a certainty, but we want to send a message of the strong commitment of both the Finnish Government and the German shipyard Meyer Werft,” he told reporters at the Finnish Parliament later on Thursday.

The owners of STX, the South Korean parent company of STX Finland, were according to Vapaavuori notified of the interest of the Finnish Government in initiating the takeover negotiations already last year.

The schedule of the acquisition, Vapaavuori added, will depend on the South Korean conglomerate. “We have learnt that there's willingness in Korea to discuss the sale of European shipyards,” he said.

Although it remains premature to estimate the size of the possible investment, Vapaavuori indicated that Meyer Werft would obtain a “clear majority” and the Finnish Government a minority stake in the shipyard.

According to Vapaavuori, several cabinet ministers have known about the negotiations with the German shipbuilding company. “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, whose members include Minister of Finance [Jutta] Urpilainen (SDP) and Minister of Labour [Lauri] Ihalainen (SDP), has known about the matter for months.”

“Both the Government and Meyer Werft are committed to the ongoing negotiations. The negotiations, however, remain at a preliminary stage, so we cannot comment on any details at this stage,” Vapaavuori told.

Founded already in 1795, Meyer Werft employs a total of 3,100 people and last year posted a turnover of 1.3 billion euros, according to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Juhani Saarinen, Petri Sajari – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva