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Wed, Mar 01, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Mittal not prepared to raise Arcelor bid

AFP , CHICAGO

International steel giant Mittal Steel ruled out on Monday raising the price on its US$23 billion takeover bid for Arcelor as it prepared to present its case to angry European governments.

"We think our offer is fair, especially because Mittal Steel shares are currently overvalued," Roland Baan, chief executive of Mittal Steel Europe, told reporters during a tour of company sites in the US.

"The financial benefits of the merger are very significant," he said, after the world's largest steel group sparked a political storm by launching an 18.6-billion-euro (US$22.7 billion) bid for Europe's Arcelor last month.

The Financial Times, quoting stock analysts, said on Monday that Mittal Steel would have to raise its offer of 28.21 euros a share by about 20 percent if it wants to win over reluctant Arcelor shareholders.

The hostile bid has provoked anger, particularly in France, where President Jacques Chirac has railed against the potential impact on jobs at Arcelor.

Paris has demanded an "industrial plan" amid widespread opposition to the takeover of Arcelor, which comprises former national steel interests in France, Luxembourg and Spain.

The company also has steel plants in Belgium.

Mittal Steel spokeswoman Nicola Davidson said the Netherlands-based group, which is run by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, intended to present "key features" of the takeover to the governments concerned this week.

"We will elaborate on these key features and provide further details of our plan in the course of face-to-face meetings which are in the process of being scheduled within the next weeks," she said.

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