Poland Sells Top Steel Concern To Arcelor Mittal

Will sell remaining stake in country's biggest steel company

Polish authorities announced on July 27 that they were selling their remaining one-quarter stake in the country's biggest steel concern, PHS, to the majority owner, global giant Arcelor Mittal. The sale price is 436.4 million zlotys (US$157 million).

Earlier this year, the Polish Auditors' Court had recommended that the treasury review the terms of the 2004 sale of 70 % of PHS to Arcelor Mittal. The court had said that the value of PHS was "under-estimated by around two billion zlotys" at the time of its acquisition by Arcelor Mittal. The court had recommended specifically that the treasury renegotiate the terms of a call option that was part of the 2004 deal, and which was meant to enable Arcelor Mittal to acquire the rest of PHS for one zloty per share, or a total of 67 million zlotys. The court did not, however, complain about Arcelor Mittal winning the tender to buy PHS, saying that its offer was the best on the table at the time.

Other key planks of the 2004 deal included pledges by Arcelor Mittal to invest 2.4 billion zlotys in PHS up to 2009, to increase the Polish group's capital by 800 million zlotys, and buy back its debts for around a billion zlotys.

PHS comprises the four main steel mills in Poland -- Huta Sendzimira, Huta Katowice, Huta Florian and Huta Cedler -- which between them account for 70 percent of Polish steel production.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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