International Steel Offers $1.5 Billion For Bethlehem Assets

By Agence France-Presse International Steel Group (ISG) said Jan. 6 it was offering some $1.5 billion to buy most of the assets of bankrupt Bethlehem Steel Corp. in a deal that would create the largest U.S. steelmaker. ISG was organized by WL Ross & Co. just nine months ago to acquire the assets of ailing steel firms, and has already bought operations from LTV Corp. and a mill previously operated by Acme Steel Co. ISG said that if Bethlehem assets were acquired, it would make ISG the largest integrated producer of steel in North America, with over 16 million tons of annual shipments. The deal, which includes assumption of some liabilities, must be approved by Bethlehem's board of directors and then submitted to a bankruptcy court. Jan. 6 was the final day of International Steel's 60-day exclusive negotiating period to purchase Bethlehem Steel, which has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for more than a year. ISG said it believes its proposed acquisition will have the support of both Bethlehem management and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) union. "Upon the purchase of Bethlehem's facilities, we anticipate a quick and orderly transition to the ISG business model and culture, and the application of our new USWA labor agreement," said Rodney Mott, ISG's president and CEO. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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