Arcelor in new blame game
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Arcelor in new blame game

The French steel-maker has accused Lakshmi Mittal of inflaming political opinion, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 19:30 IST
Vijay Dutt

Arcelor has fired another salvo, aiming a more vicious attack on Lakshmi Mittal. The French steel-maker has now claimed the entrepreneur was to blame for inflaming political opinion against his £12.7 billion bid for it.

Mittal came under fierce attack from France, Luxembourg and Spain immediately after he launched his cash-and-shares bid in January. Politicians in all these made it clear enough they did not want to let Arcelor, that employs 25,000 Europeans fall into a foreign hand.

Mittal operates from Europe, so apparently he was termed foreigner because he is an Indian passport holder.

Many in fact have accused Guy Dolle, chief executive of Arcelor, of instigating protectionist rhetoric from politicians. But he spoke to the Telegraph saying, "Mr Mittal paid so many visits to politicians, so why do you think they are getting involved. I saw much fewer politicians".

Whatever be the case, for some reason Dole now wants the political row to subside. He pointed out he asked politician to be quiet. The decision is with shareholders and not politicians, he said.

A Mittal spokesman refuted the charge that Mittal provoked politicians. He clarified that Mittal had visited the European politicians to allay their fears they appeared to have after the merger offer.

Meanwhile the Spanish Government acknowledged that it received details of the take-over plan but thought it to be insufficient to alleviate doubts about the operation.

Arcelor has also released its defence, promising to deliver 2.2 billion euro of savings, in part through headcount reduction, over the next two years and to hand back to shareholders some of the 4.4 billion cash it generates annually. But sources close to Mital Steel questioned how Arcelor would continue to grow and return cash.

So one expect more salvos from Arcelor.

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 19:30 IST