ArcelorMittal, commissioners to sign deal on Italy's Ilva plant on Wednesday: lawyers

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MILAN (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal and commissioners of the Ilva steelworks are set to sign a deal on Wednesday ending a four-month-old dispute over the future of the southern Italian plant, lawyers for both sides said,

The world’s biggest steelmaker had tried to walk away from a 2018 deal to buy Ilva, after parliament had scrapped legal immunity from prosecution over environmental risks during a clean-up of the heavily polluting factory.

ArcelorMittal’s decision to withdraw was a blow to the coalition government, with Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli saying the steel giant had used the legal issue to escape a potentially loss-making deal.

Originally, Rome and ArcelorMittal had agreed to develop a new industrial plan for a site that employs about 8,000 workers in the city of Taranto and in November was losing around 2 million euros ($2.2 million) a day.

The dispute ended up in court, with ArcelorMittal making a request to pull out of Ilva and the government filing against the steelmaker’s decision to leave.

ArcelorMittal lawyer Ferdinando Emanuele and Ilva commissioners lawyer Enrico Castellani told Reuters the agreement would be signed on Wednesday and that both sides would ask the Milan court to drop both the lawsuits.

Castellani told Reuters the two sides would file their requests electronically, asking the court to cancel the upcoming hearing of March 6.

The lawyers said details of the deal were confidential.

The future of the plant has been a headache to successive Italian governments, which have struggled to balance the need to clean up the polluted site and that to safeguard thousands of jobs in the underdeveloped south.

Reporting by Alfredo Faieta, writing by Emilio Parodi. Editing by Jane Merriman