Tata Steel, CSN Enter Final Stretch In Takeover Race For Corus

The winner will become the fifth-largest steel player with annual output of around 25 million tons.

India's Tata Steel and Brazilian rival CSN braced Jan. 20 for the start of a quick-fire auction to determine the fate of Anglo-Dutch peer Corus in the rapidly-consolidating steel sector. The multi-billion-dollar takeover battle shows the growing economic clout of emerging superpowers India and Brazil, as Tata and CSN slug it out for a piece of the European steel industry -- and seek to gain ground on world number one Arcelor Mittal.

Britain's Takeover Panel had imposed an auction procedure on Tata and Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (CSN) last week following what had been a protracted takeover tussle. The auction, which kicks off at 4:30pm (1630 GMT) Jan. 29 and a winner will be declared with Jan. 31 or Feb. 1.

Corus had last month backed bids from both Tata and CSN. The Brazilian group offered about 5.8 billion pounds (US$11.3 billion) after Tata had tabled an offer of about 5.6 billion pounds. Corus had recommended that shareholders accept the latest CSN bid which was pitched at 515 pence per share, compared with Tata's offer of 500 pence per share.

The winner will become the fifth-largest steel player in the world with annual steel output of around 25 million tons per year, according to CSN and Tata.

Corus, which was spawned by the 1999 merger of Dutch firm Hoogovens and British Steel, is Europe's second-largest steel maker and the world's ninth-largest, producing around 18 million tons per year

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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