* Lucchini's board was looking at extraordinary
* Union says Klesch often interested, rarely acts
* Klesch ZALCO aluminium plant bankrupt; Voerde insolvent
By Silvia Antonioli and Harpreet Bhal
LONDON, Oct 29 Swiss industrial group Klesch
said on Monday it has expressed interest in acquiring
debt-burdened Italian steel producer Lucchini but Italy's
biggest trade union voiced doubt that the purchase would take
The Italian company agreed with shareholders and creditor
banks in December last year to restructure its 720 million euro
($917 million) debt pile, paving the way for a sale to a third
"I can confirm the expressed interest (in Lucchini) but that
is all I can comment on at the moment," a spokeswoman for Klesch
A spokesman for Lucchini, a company owned by Russia's
Severstal and Severstal's owner, Russian businessman
Alexei Mordashov, declined to comment due to the sensitivity of
A sale of Lucchini has proved extremely difficult in the
context of falling steel prices and economic recession.
Its board had been looking at options such as Italy's
extraordinary administration procedures or a deal with creditors
to avoid bankruptcy until Klesch expressed interest, a trade
union official said.
"We are very puzzled about Klesch's non-binding expression
of interest which has suspended decisions regarding a possible
extraordinary administration," Gianni Venturi, the national
coordinator for steel at Italian union CGIL FIOM, told Reuters.
"We are not sure how concrete Klesch's interest is as the
company is known for being very active in expressing interest
but less active in taking concrete steps," Venturi said.
The interest voiced by Klesch in Lucchini follows news last
month that the Geneva-based private firm was looking to buy an
Italian aluminium smelter in Sardinia that is being closed by
Lucchini employs between 3,500 and 4,000 people, directly
and indirectly, at its plants in Piombino, Trieste and Lecco,
Klesch sold parts of its bankrupt Dutch aluminium smelter
ZALCO, owned by its subsidiary BaseMet, in June. Its Voerde
smelter in Germany is also searching for a buyer after declaring
insolvency in September.