Mittal Would Sweeten Arcelor Offer If Board Backs Takeover

Mittal Steel said May 9 that if board members at European steelmaker Arcelor backed its takeover bid it might raise the value of the offer.

Arcelor's board has repeatedly rejected the global steelmaker's overture and Mittal chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said May 9 that under current circumstances "we have no intention to raise our offer." But the company said in a statement that "in the context of a recommended transaction (by the Arcelor board), Mittal Steel is prepared to revise the value of its offer," which stood at 18.6-billion-euros (US$23-billion-dollars) when launched in January.

Mittal also said if the deal were agreed it would reduce the Mittal family's control of the company but that its share of the capital would not drop below 50.4%.

If the Arcelor board were prepared to back its offer, Mittal said it would propose the enlargement of the board of directors to 14 members, six from Mittal, six from Arcelor, and appoint two independent directors to be mutually agreed upon. He also said he wanted to bring French businessman Francois Pinault onto the board of the merged group. Pinault is one of France's richest men and is close to French President Jacques Chirac. His appointment might soften French resistance to the proposed deal, which sparked fierce opposition and much talk of "economic patriotism" when Mittal launched its bid.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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