Czech Government Sees End To Mittal Steel Claim

Mittal agreed to table an offer and thus end arbitration claims.

The Czech government and Mittal Steel have made a "breakthrough" in negotiations that should end the steel giant's 700 million euro (US$926 million) claim over its exclusion from bidding for state-owned Vitkovice Steel, the finance ministry said on Dec. 12.

Mittal Steel representatives promised during negotiations on Dec.11 to table an offer that would end its arbitration claims "without any financial obligations for the Czech Republic," the ministry announced in a news release.

Mittal Steel lodged an arbitration claim in 2005 citing Prague's failure to protect its rights under a bilateral investment agreement with the Netherlands. The claim was sparked after Mittal was excluded from bidding for Vitkovice Steel, one of the biggest Czech steel companies.

The Czech government eventually sold the company to the Russian-based Evraz Group for 7.05 billion koruna (US$ 333.9 million.)

Mittal Steel Group already had a 70.67% stake in the country's biggest steelmaker, Mittal Steel Ostrava, formerly Nova Hut, when it bid for Vitkovice.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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