BARI, Italy Aug 14 ArcelorMittal, the
world's largest steelmaker, has sent a non-binding expression of
interest for troubled Italian steelmaker Ilva, trade union
sources said on Thursday.
Ilva runs Europe's biggest steel plant in the southern
Italian city of Taranto but has for some time been at the centre
of an environmental scandal.
It was put under special administration last year after
magistrates seized 8.1 billion euros ($11 billion) from its
owners, the Riva family, amid allegations the plant's toxic
emissions caused abnormally high rates of cancer.
"A letter of intent has arrived, and Arcelor will present an
industrial plan to the Italian government by the end of
September," one of the union sources said.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Thursday
that the government was eager to bring Italian investors on
board alongside ArcelorMittal but added that the letter of
intent made no mention of any Italian partner.
ArcelorMittal and the commissioner running Ilva, Piero
Gnudi, did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.
In July, Italy's Industry Minister said ArcelorMittal was
one of at least four or five companies interested in Ilva.
Ilva, Europe's biggest steel plant by capacity, is one of
the largest employers in southern Italy, and Rome is keen to
find a solution to the crisis at a time of record-high
Italian steel industry body Federacciai recently said the
Taranto complex is losing cash at a rate of 60 million to 80
million euros a month, putting its very existence as a going
concern at risk.
ArcelorMittal, which previously confirmed the group was
invited to look at Ilva by the government, said in August it
would move forward only if confident the deal would be good for
its business in Europe and create value.
Buying into Ilva would give ArcelorMittal greater control
over the price of steel in southern Europe.
(1 US dollar = 0.7476 euro)
(Reporting by Vincenzo Damiani, additional reporting by Silvia
Antonioli, writing by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Jane Baird)