Cliffs/USS merger would have cleared antitrust: Lourenço Gonçalves

Cleveland-Cliffs’ top executive says his company’s bid for US Steel would have complied with US antitrust laws, Kallanish learns.

In an interview on Bloomberg Television, Cliffs chairman, president and ceo Lourenço Gonçalves says he had been in communication with the federal government to ensure that a Cliffs acquisition of its domestic competitor would have been lawful.

“I talked to the US government prior to making the offer to make sure I had a path to clear antitrust and US Steel decided not to listen and go with Nippon Steel,” Lourenço Gonçalves says.

US Steel rejected Cleveland-Cliffs $7.3 billion buyout proposal last summer (see Kallanish 14 August). The United Steelworkers union supported Cliffs’ purchase of US Steel and, by contract, has a de facto role in determining whether such a deal can go forward. The union assigned Cleveland-Cliffs a right to bid.

US Steel accepted Nippon Steel’s offer to purchase the company for $14.9 billion (see Kallanish 18 December).

A service centre operator who frequently stocks flat steel products produced by the two US steelmakers expressed his relief that US Steel had declined Cleveland-Cliffs’ proposal.

“We can’t have Cliffs responsible for that much of the market. It’s too much control for them,” says the steel flats purchaser.

The Cliffs CEO contends that Nippon Steel will not be able to follow through on its proposed transaction.

“The Titanic has already hit the iceberg,” Gonçalves says in the interview, adding: “We’ll be on the other side when the deal unravels.”

Kristen DiLandro USA