By Jeffrey May, J.D.
The spinoff of the assets had been required by the EC in order for ArcelorMittal to win approval of its acquisition of Ilva.
The European Commission (EC) announced today that it has approved Liberty House Group as a suitable purchaser of several ArcelorMittal steel plants that were to be divested under commitments made last year by ArcelorMittal in order to buy Italian steelworks company Ilva S.p.A. The EC also approved the transaction itself under EU merger rules.
In May 2018, the EC conditionally approved the acquisition of Ilva by ArcelorMittal, which describes itself as the world’s leading steel and mining company. The decision to allow the combination of the two steel producers was conditioned on the divestiture of an extensive remedy package to preserve effective competition on European steel markets to the benefit of consumers and businesses.
Today, the EC decided to approve Liberty as the acquirer of the divested assets. Liberty, headquartered in London, is an international metals and industrial group. In response to the EC announcement, the firm said that the transaction will make Liberty "the third largest steel producer in Europe."
The package of assets that ArcelorMittal committed to divest consists of a number of production sites throughout Europe, including: an integrated steelworks in Galati, Romania; an integrated steelworks in Ostrava, Czechia; and finishing plants in Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and North Macedonia. These divested production sites cover the whole value chain, from liquid steel manufacturing to the production of finished flat carbon steel products, including hot rolled, cold rolled, and galvanized steel, according to the EC.
The EC also announced that the sale of the assets to Liberty raised no competition concerns. There only were limited overlaps between the activities of Liberty and the steel plants acquired, it was noted.
ArcelorMittal said in a statement that it anticipates the transaction to close before the end of the first half of this year.
Companies: ArcelorMittal; Ilva S.p.A.; Liberty House Group
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