Outokumpu says Italian stainless steel plant bids 'unsatisfactory'

LONDON, June 7 Fri Jun 7, 2013 4:00am EDT

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu said on Friday bids received so far for its Italian plant, Acciai Speciali Terni, "have not been satisfactory".

Outokumpu has to sell Terni, one of Europe's biggest and most modern steel plants, as a condition for the EU competition authorities approving its acquisition of Inoxum, rival ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel arm.

Last month sources with knowledge of the matter said its deadline for the sale was extended to the end of June, after Outokumpu told the EU Commission it was not happy with either the number of bids on the table or the price offered.

"Outokumpu continues to work intensively with all parties to provide as quick a solution as is possible," it said on Friday.

The Terni site was valued at as much as $1 billion a year ago, but on Outokumpu's books it now has a value of 560 million euros ($739 million), and could sell for less.

Outokumpu, keen to ensure that a lengthy sale process does not affect Terni's competitiveness, said the Italian business was pressing ahead with a 2013 investment programme, adding it would continue to fully finance the plant.

"Despite the very difficult market conditions, (Terni's) financial performance improved in the last reported quarter (January-March 2013)," Outokumpu said.

"This is an encouraging development considering the challenging economic environment in Europe, and especially in Italy." (Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Greg Mahlich)