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India to respond if L'bourg plays dirty

The EU, meanwhile, said the Mittal-Arcelor issue should be treated only on commercial considerations.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:47 IST

India may not limit itself to watching from the sidelines if Luxembourg carries out its move to bring in a legislation to prevent Mittal Steel from taking over European steelmaker Arcelor. Well-placed sources say New Delhi may have to come up with a considered response.

In this context, the sources referred to MoS for External Affairs Anand Sharma's remark that India always raises its voice "whenever there's any instance of injustice and institutionalised discrimination against any section of people anywhere in the world".

Luxembourg has said it is considering legislation to allow the boards of companies to decide on takeovers without referral to shareholders -- something which could thwart Mittal Steel's $22.5-billion bid for Arcelor.

Asked about reports that the Mittal-EU standoff could prompt India to review its double taxation avoidance agreement with Luxembourg, a senior foreign ministry official said the government had not taken any such position so far. "Let us first find out the reality, then we'll see," said the official. "As of now it's just a commercial dispute. But if there is a discriminatory regime, India could make a formal objection."

On the issue of the proposed takeover, at least one source sought to make a distinction between Luxembourg's opposition and the French stance on the ground that the former had stakes in the company in question.

The EU, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that it was against racial discrimination and the Mittal-Arcelor issue should be treated only on commercial considerations.

"The EU is of a clear view that nationality in such cases is not relevant and it should be decided according to the laws in place and commercial merits," said David O'Sullivan, director general (trade), European Commission in Delhi. "It's unfortunate that allegations of racial discrimination have crept in the issue."

O'Sullivan, however, made it clear that the EU would be concerned if there were any violations of competition rules and the takeover created a monopoly kind of situation.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 01:01 IST