5 May 2016

Tentative New Caledonia nickel rescue deal

2:35 pm on 5 May 2016

New Caledonia's provinces have given their conditional approval for taking a loan from the French state to help the territory's biggest private sector employer, the SLN nickel company, restructure its operations.

Last week, the French prime minister Manuel Valls visited Noumea and offered to lend $US240 million to the territory to assist SLN, which is running at a loss of about $US700,000 a day because of the fall of the price of nickel.

The provinces' umbrella company, STCPI, has agreed to take up the offer, but insists on limiting its role to 34 percent which is equivalent to its stake in SLN.

An STCPI leader says SLN's French parent company Eramet has to accept part of the blame for the crisis because of a failed strategy.

He says before the price slump more than $US900 million in dividends were disbursed and the construction of a badly needed new power plant was deferred for a decade.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

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