ArcelorMittal ‘unwilling’ to invest further in ADI

Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal has rejected plans to increase the Italian government’s shareholdings in Acciaierie d’Italia (ADI), which operates the former Ilva assets, and to commit to further investment in the troubled company.

ADI sought capital to ensure production continues at its plants, with market talk over the past months suggesting that raw materials supply is under threat, while steel deliveries to customers were routinely being delayed.

ArcelorMittal owns 62pc of ADI’s shares, with the remaining 38pc owned by the Italian state through the national agency for investment and business, Invitalia. Both owners have equal voting and governance rights for ADI.

At negotiations yesterday, ArcelorMittal refused calls to invest further in ADI, a source close to the company said, adding that the likelihood of production stopping was now higher. Other market participants expect that the management team of ADI will soon be changed and the company might be placed in extraordinary administration.

During the negotiations, the Italian government proposed an investment of €320mn ($349mn) to increase Invitalia’s shareholdings to 66pc, which ArcelorMittal rejected, a government statement said. The government “has appointed Invitalia to take the consequent decisions, through its legal team”. ArcelorMittal did not return a request for comment.

Italian metalworkers’ union Fiom-Cgil called on the Italian government to take complete control of ADI. “We expect the government to come up with a solution that will ensure the safety of all workers, including those in related industries, and guarantee public control, employment protection, health and safety, environmental remediation and industrial revival,” said Fiom-Cgil general secretary Roberto Benaglia.

At full production, the Taranto plant, ADI’s flagship asset, can produce 9.6mn t/yr of hot metal, but has been operating below this level for many years. A company source stated ADI is currently operating two blast furnaces, having brought its second furnace back on line after one week of maintenance in December.

By George Barsted