International Fight Launched For Polish Steel Group

By Agence France-Presse U.S. Steel Corp., private Anglo-Indian steel group LNM Holdings NV and Luxembourg-based Arcelor were among international groups launching bids Feb. 10 for the privatization of up to 85% of Poland's biggest steel group, Polskie Huty Stali (PHS). "The LNM group has lodged an offer to take over PHS", Sudhir Meheshwari, the group's financial director told a news conference. He gave no further details. U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh, said in a statement it had lodged an initial offer, saying it hoped that it "responds to the financial and social demands [of the program] of privatization and restructuring of PHS." Arcelor, in which several European steel firms have a stake, also said it had lodged an initial offer but said its proposal had not met tender standards. "We have lodged an initial offer for a minority stake. Our proposal does not respond to the tender as formulated by the Polish government, an Arcelor group spokesman said. He did not say what the minority stake amounted to. The spokesman said Arcelor "wanted first to propose a restructuring in line with the demands of the market, before talking about anything else." PHS is a holding company for Poland's four biggest steel firms: Huta Sendzimira, Huta Katowice, Huta Florian and Huta Cedler, which are responsible for 70% of national production. It currently employs around 16,000 people. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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