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Mon, May 22, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Arcelor's board to consider Mittal's improved offer

AFP , PARIS

The ball was in Arcelor's court yesterday as the steel manufacturer's board prepared to respond to a sweetened 25.8 billion euro (US$32.9 billion) offer from rival Mittal Steel.

Arcelor's board of directors were due to meet in Luxembourg at 3pm yesterday to study the details of the improved offer made on Friday by Mittal, the biggest steelmaker worldwide in terms of volume.

But it was not clear whether the Franco-Spanish-Luxembourg group would come to a definitive decision. Arcelor "does not have all the official documents" laying out the new offer, a source close to the proposed deal said.

Even if it was to issue a statement at the end of the day, it could be a few days before Arcelor's board gives its recommendations to shareholders.

For nearly four months, the group's board has been doing all it can to dissuade them from succumbing to Mittal's advances, and there is little chance that the improved offer will be enough to convince the directors to accept a tie-up.

"Arcelor still believes a coming together of the two companies is not a convincing proposal," a source close to the group said on Saturday.

Moreover, the leaders of the group have always insisted an all-cash offer is a pre-condition to talks with Mittal.

On Friday, Mittal raised its bid for Arcelor to 25.8 billion euros, or 37.74 euros a share, up from 18.6 billion euros, and said that if the bid succeeded the family would hold about 45 percent of the new entity -- a smaller proportion than previously envisaged.

Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal on Friday declared his "absolute determination" to secure a deal to buy Arcelor. The revised offer is aimed both at answering the criticisms of shareholders, who judged the earlier offer too low, and at assuaging the concerns of France, Luxembourg and Spain about the flagship of Europe's steel industry falling into foreign hands.

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