Under Commission terms, ArcelorMittal must sell its Dudelange plant in order to be allowed to buy Ilva
The European Commission has greenlighted ArcelorMittal’s bid to purchase Italian steelmaker Ilva.
The approval is conditional on the sale of its Dudelange site, part of a divestment package to preserve competitive prices on European steel markets.
“Today's decision makes sure that ArcelorMittal's acquisition of Ilva, creating the by far largest steelmaker in Europe, does not result in higher steel prices – at the expense of European industries, the millions of people they employ and consumers,” the EU competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said in a press release published on Monday.
“ArcelorMittal has proposed to sell a number of steel plants throughout Europe to one or more buyers, who will run them to compete with ArcelorMittal on a lasting basis. This will preserve effective competition on European steel markets. It goes hand in hand with decisive EU action to protect our steel industry from unfair trade distortions from third countries.”
The Luxembourg-based steel giant first expressed an interest in Ilva, the largest steel mill in Europe, in 2014. Ilva had been placed under state administration since 2015. ArcelorMittal has offered €1.8bn for the acquisition, added to which it has promised investment in the region of €2.4bn and other employment commitments.
As the commission said in its statement: “Finally, the sale of Ilva's assets to ArcelorMittal should also help accelerate the urgent environmental clean-up works in the Taranto Region. This essential de-pollution work should continue without delay to protect the health of Taranto's inhabitants.”
In order to ease the European Commission’s concerns that the buyout would not push up steel prices for certain products, ArcelorMittal proposed to sell off sites in Romania, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Belgium (Liège) and Luxembourg (Dudelange).
The latter’s inclusion prompted concerns among staff, unions and politicians about the long-term viability of the site, even pushing the economy minister to publish an open letter to the commissioner.
The commission said on Monday the “steel plants would be sold to one or more buyers that will continue to operate and develop them, so they can compete effectively with ArcelorMittal. In other words, the sale of a plant to a buyer, which would plan to subsequently close it down, would not be an acceptable solution.”