PARIS A bid by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri (FCT.MI) for STX France is likely to be signed formally around Feb. 15 with the deal finalised in April, French industry minister Christophe Sirugue told Reuters on Wednesday.
"Signature will probably be around February 15, with the closing probably in April," Sirugue told Reuters in an interview.
The sale of STX France, which specialises in building cruise ships at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard and is profitable, forms part of a broader sell-off of businesses following the demise of the South Korean STX shipbuilding group.
The French state has and aims to keep its 33 percent stake with blocking rights in STX France, which Fincantieri is interested in to gain a foothold in the cruise shipbuilding market.
The head of French state-controlled military shipbuilder DCNS also said last week it was "very likely" that DCNS - in which Thales (TCFP.PA) has a minority stake - would enter into the capital of STX France.
"What is needed is for us to keep our 33 percent, it's imperative since it gives us minority blocking rights," said Sirugue.
"We shall see what DCNS ends up doing....what is clear is that DCNS, together with the 33 percent held by the state, will not end up with a 50 percent stake," added the minister.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas)