HOSTILE MITTAL BID FOR ARCELOR MAY HINDER FUTURE STEEL CONSOLIDATION

MEPS STEEL NEWS
The Mittal Steel merger with Arcelor is coming close to completion. The new organisation will make almost 120 million tonnes per year of crude steel. Many industry executives have said they expect to see the emergence of several companies of a similar size as the process of consolidation moves forward.

At present, however, it is difficult to see where the next 100 million tonne steel company will come from. Merging the world’s two top consolidators – Mittal and Arcelor – could in fact slow the process down. Many steel companies around the world have taken steps to deter hostile takeover bids from Mittal or those keen to imitate it.

Because of its future growth potential, India is said to be high on many steel companies’ list of attractive markets. Here the Tata business group has moved to increase its holding in Tata Steel from its current level of 27 percent to deter any hostile takeover bid.

Major Japanese mills Nippon Steel, Sumitomo Metals and Kobe Steel have strengthened their cross-shareholdings. According to some reports, they have also reached an understanding that, in the event of a hostile bid for any one of them, the other two would offer a higher price per share. Nippon Steel also has a looser alliance with Posco and Baosteel.

In Europe, several steel makers have reacted to Mittal’s move on Arcelor by adopting measures to protect themselves from unwanted attentions. These range from share allocations for employees to buying back shares in order to take them off the market. So-called “poison pill� defences have been adopted by some North American steel companies.

Many steel producers say they want consolidation – but strictly on their own terms.

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