Alstom Under Fire For Alleged Asbestos Poisoning

Friday, June 22, 2001
French shipbuilder Alstom SA will need to set aside at least 20 million euros ($17 million) for claims linked to alleged asbestos poisoning at its Saint Nazaire shipyard, analysts said on Friday. A tribunal in Nantes in western France ruled on Thursday that three employees at Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard had been poisoned by asbestos and accused the company of "an inexcusable fault."

Compensation likely to be demanded following further medical tests on the victims may run to 200,000 French francs ($26,000) per person, according to calculations by financial analysts.

The company declined to release its own estimate for how much compensation it would have to pay. "It is first of all a human and legal issue and we are not yet at the point where an estimation can be made," said a company spokesman.

But concern the charges will cause a dent in Alstom's cash reserves pushed its shares down 2.14 percent to 32.88 euros in mid-afternoon trading on the Paris bourse.

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