France: $4.6 billion cruise ship deal to boost shipyard

France's government has announced a deal worth nearly 4 billion euros (nearly $4.6 billion) to build cruise ships — and boost jobs — at a politically emblematic French shipyard.

Swiss-based MSC Cruises said it signed a letter of intent Wednesday with ship maker STX France for the construction of up to four ships. President Francois Hollande oversaw the signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace.

STX, part-owned by the French state and based in the Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire, was saved from bankruptcy by a controversial contract to build warships for Russia's navy.

Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy clinched the 2009 deal in a bid to save French jobs and reach out to Russia. Hollande, however, broke it off in 2014 over the conflict in Ukraine. Egypt bought the ships instead.