Efforts on to stall Mittal takeover
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Efforts on to stall Mittal takeover

Meanwhile Mittal group announced new initiatives to appeal to Arcelor investors, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 18:22 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

New ways to stall the takeover bid by Mittal Steel are being devised almost daily by bosses of Arcelor, the European steel company.

Meanwhile Lakshmi Mittal group also announced its new, more attractive steps in the offer procedure which could appeal to the investors.

The battle also resonated in Germany where the Government laid new draft laws in Parliament about the way in which future takeovers are conducted only a day after Luxembourg did the same. It proposes to incorporate the European Union directive on takeovers into domestic laws.

Not content with the legislation proposed by the Luxembourg Government to bar the attempted takeover bid, Arcelor unveiled a near-doubling in its dividend and presented strong financial results, in what is seen as a ploy to defend itself against a £13 billion takeover offer from Mittal Steel. It also promised more rewards to investors.

Guy Dolle, its chief executive, however, maintained that the big rise in dividend was not an attempt to keep shareholders on side and against the Mittal bid. But in what might be seen as a coded message not to interfere too much to ministers in Luxembourg, Germany and France where the Mittal bid has been strongly opposed, Dolle has said, "The best poison pill is the efficiency of company and the evidence of our result."

But, apparently he is not leaving any chance to outwit Mittal. He has scheduled to visit the company's shareholders next month, armed with the 2005 results. Earlier this week, Mittal Steel claimed the Arcelor shareholders it had seen were "supportive" of its bid.

Dolle has simultaneously held out the possibility of looking more favourably at a sweeter Mittal offer. "If there's a new bid, we would look at it very carefully ... the only way of establishing the value of such an offer is if it were made in cash." He also drew back from the personal attacks on Lakshmi Mittal. Dolle said, "I have a lot of respect for Mittal."

Dolle could now have to reconsider his strategies in view of the new announcement by the Mittal Steel Company in connection with its proposed acquisition of Arcelor SA. It said it would file important documents with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including a registration statement on Form F-4, a prospectus for the exchange offer and related documents. Investors and Arcelor security holders were urged to carefully read all such documents when they became available because they would contain important information.

The tough stand by Mittal in the face of various governments uniting to oppose his bid has won over the British media which never mentioned his name without making a couple of critical remarks. He is being backed as any British corporate head would be.

He is now seen apart from a steel baron to be a man of steel.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 18:22 IST