ROME (Reuters) - Aluminium maker Alcoa Inc. (AA.N) said on Friday it had received no new expressions of interest for its Sardinian smelter, denying Italian government claims that two different groups were looking at saving the plant from closure.
“Since August 1 we have not received any new and concrete expressions of interest by potential buyers,” Alcoa said in a written statement.
Italy’s industry ministry said on August 31 that Swiss-based commodities and mining group Glencore (GLEN.L) was mulling taking over the smelter, and this week a government official said a U.S. multinational had sent a letter of interest.
Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government is under intense pressure from labour unions to save the unprofitable factory. The Alcoa factory on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia employs some 500 workers with a further 1,000 directly depending on the plant.
Three of the smelter’s workers spent a third night camped on top of a 60-metre (197-fooot) water tower at the factory to protest against its gradual shutdown.
Closure of the plant, a major employer on Sardinia, would be a heavy blow for the island, already beset by 15 percent unemployment.
Alcoa said the shutdown, which started on September 1, would continue, but that the smelter would be maintained for another year “ready to be restarted by another operator, if one comes forward,” according to the statement on Friday.
Italian officials, labour unions and Alcoa are scheduled to meet in Rome on Monday to discuss the plant’s closure, and any possible offers.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Mark Potter