Prologium in talks with France to set subsidies for $5.7 billion battery factory

FILE PHOTO: France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks with ProLogium's CEO Vincent Yang during a meeting as part of the 5th edition of the "Choose France" Business Summit, at the Palace of Versailles, southwest of Paris, France, July 11, 2022. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan electric vehicle battery maker ProLogium is working with the French government to secure subsidies for a 5.2 billion euro ($5.7 billion) battery factory it is going to build in the north of France, Prologium's CEO said on Friday.

Vincent Yang told reporters in Taipei the parties were in the final phase of talks and that he expected a joint announcement by the end of this year.

He and the director of the French Office in Taipei, Jean-Francois Casabonne-Masonnave, declined to comment on the size of the subsidy being discussed.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced ProLogium's investment last month in the country's northern region of Dunkirk.

"The French government's efficiency is quite impressive," Yang said.

With production slated to begin in 2026, the gigafactory will be the fourth in northern France, adding to an emerging specialised cluster devoted to Europe's electric car industry.

Yang said there would be many sources of funding in addition to any French subsidies, including loans, funds raised from an initial public offering, and investment from automobile manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz Group.

"Mercedes has already invested, and other auto makers are also showing interest," he said.

Europe currently largely depends on batteries made in Asia for electric cars, and national leaders are offering various incentives to grow its own industry.

ProLogium expects the project to create 3,000 jobs directly and four times as many indirectly, a boon in a region where both far right and far left political parties score highly among voters after years of industrial decline.

The ProLogium investment also highlighted fierce competition among EU member states for deals.

The timing of the French win over Germany and the Netherlands was fortuitous for Macron, who wants to turn the page on months of strikes and protests over his raising of the retirement age and show sceptical voters his pro-business push is bearing fruit.

(Reporting by Faith Hung and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sonali Paul)

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