Arcelor decision on Mittal's bid soon

March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2006, 06:19am hrs
Arcelor SAs shareholders will take at least two months to decide whether to accept Mittal Steel Cos $24 billion hostile takeover bid, in part because of Mittal delays in making a formal bid, an Arcelor executive said.

The shareholders of Luxembourg-based Arcelor, the worlds second-largest steelmaker, have no way of evaluating Rotterdam-based Mittals bid because no binding offer has yet been presented, said Michel Wurth, Arcelors deputy chief executive officer.

Mr Wurth, speaking to reporters during a visit to Arcelor operations in Vitoria, Brazil, said he expects Mittal to file the formal offer with regulators in April

So far there has been no offer, said Mr Wurth. When there is an offer it will be open for 35 business days and only on the last day will we know what the answer is.

Mittal, the worlds biggest steelmaker by capacity, bid 19.7 billion-euro ($24 billion) for Arcelor to create a steelmaker three times larger than its nearest rival and that makes about 100 million metric tonne a year of steel, a 10th of world output.

The merger has been criticised by the governments of France, Spain and Luxembourg, which holds about 5% of Arcelor.

Indian-born billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, whose family controls Mittal, has said that Arcelor managers and European governments are preparing roadblocks to prevent his purchase of the company.

Mr Wurth said Arcelor was committed to letting shareholders decide whether to accept the Mittal offer and that Lakshmi Mittal was making a mistake if he interpreted a Luxembourg government review of the offer and proposed changes to takeover rules as improper.

I do not think Mr Mittal understands Luxembourg constitutional law, Mr Wurth said. These are perfectly legitimate government actions under the law.

Mr Wurth said it was Mittal Steel and not Arcelor, who has made presentations to the governments of Spain, France and Luxembourg, who was taking actions that might hurt shareholders.

Governments are not going to decide this, shareholders are; governments have the right to give their opinion but those opinions are not always helpful, Mr Wurth said.

It is Mittal that is offering plans to the governments and not the shareholders. We would like him to show shareholders exactly what plans he has discussed with the governments.


...declines comment on Lisin buying stake

March 22: Arcelor SA, the worlds second-biggest steelmaker, declined to comment on a report in the Vedomosti newspaper that Russian billionaire Vladimir Lisin is considering buying a 15% stake in the company.
Mr Lisin may seek a holding in Arcelor as he plans to join the ranks of Europes leading metals businessmen, the paper on Wednesday cited unidentified acquaintances of the billionaire as saying.
Russian steel magnates may be seeking to bolster their foreign holdings after Mittal Steel Co, the worlds biggest producer of the metal, bid for rival Arcelor on January 27, fueling speculation about further take-overs and mergers in the industry.