STX, the Korean majority owner of Aker yards, has agreed to sell 34 percent of its French yards, a subsidiary, to the French government. According to sources, 9 percent would be sold by Aker and the remaining 25 percent would come from ALSTOM, the original owner which still holds an interest.

By holding 34 percent, France would have defacto negative control to protect its naval building programs as well as shipbuilding employment. The controversial nature of the deal comes from the fact that the management and board of Aker apparently did not know about STX's plans before they learned about from the news media. With a 39.2 percent interest in Aker, STX is by far the single largest shareholder.

The second largest single shareholder holds 5.6percent. In 2006, Aker Yards acquired a 75 percent interest in the French shipyards (Chantiers de I' Atlantique and Loreant) for 50 million euros from Alstom.

In addition, Aker has the right to acquire the remaining 25 percent for up to 125 million euros by 2010. The final price will be determined by the financial performance of the cruise and ferry division. According to STX, the yards in Finland and France will continue to build cruise ships, while offshore structures and specialty ships will be built in Germany and Norway.

STX also owns two large shipyards in South Korea and one yard in China. With its ownership in Aker Yards, STX claims to have 21 shipbuilding yards around the globe. For the first quarter of 2008, ended March 31, Aker reported net income NOK 76 million before taxes on revenues of NOK 7.4 billion, compared to a net loss of NOK 521 million on revenues of NOK 6.9 billion for the same period the year before.