Mittal charm offensive fails to halt flak over £13bn bid for Arcelor

Mr Mittal, who stunned the steel industry last week with his unsolicited bid for the world's second biggest steel producer, had what insiders described as a "full and frank" meeting in Paris with Thierry Breton, the French Finance minister.

His whirlwind tour of Europe will take him to Luxembourg today for a meeting with the Prime Minister Jean-Claude Junker, followed by talks on Wednesday with Belgium's Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, and the European competition commissioner Nellie Kroes. On Thursday he is due to meet Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose Economy minister echoed French concerns about the proposed takeover.

M. Breton said he had complained to Mr Mittal during the one-hour meeting about the lack of advance warning of the bid and spoke of his "profound concern" at its potential effect on Arcelor's 30,000 employees in France, which accounts for one-third of the group's EU operations.

Mr Mittal later told journalists in Paris the $40bn (£23bn) merger of Arcelor and his family-controlled Mittal Steel, the world's biggest producer, would not mean any job losses or plant closures. He also sought to emphasis Mittal Steel's European credentials and the fact that Arcelor shared its view that the worldwide steel industry needed to consolidate.

But Arcelor brushed this aside, describing the two companies as "diametrically opposed" and pouring scorn on Mittal's safety record, productivity, investment levels, employment policies and standards of corporate governance. During a presentation of what amounted to a full-blown defence document, Guy Dollé, Arcelor's chief executive, described the Mittal bid as "hostile, opaque, opportunistic, high-risk, destructive, prejudicial, threatening and unbalanced". M. Dollé claimed that Arcelor was 30 per cent more profitable than Mittal Steel.

He also claimed that, whereas Arcelor's accident rate had fallen by 75 per cent in the past four years, the rate at a former Arcelor plant in France now owned by Mittal had soared 10-fold.

Mittal and its advisers, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, said they were not going to get into a point-by-point rebuttal. But a spokeswoman said: "It is odd for Arcelor to claim the bid came without warning and then come out with a fully fledged defence document, which it said it had been working on for eight months."

When Mittal Steel's cash and shares offer was launched on Friday, it valued Arcelor at €28.21 a share (£19.30). The offer last night stood at €30.80, making it worth €19.7bn. Analysts doubt Mittal will succeed at the current offer price, even if it overcomes political hostility, and will need to raise the bid to €35.

Should the bid succeed, the group would have 10 per cent of the world steel market, €69bn in annual sales and 320,000 employees. The Mittal family would reduce their share of voting rights from 97 to 64 per cent and would retain just over 50 per cent of the economic interest.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine