* Aperam could lose interest if EU imposes assets sale
* Commission deadline extended to end-June - sources
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, May 10 The European Commission has given
Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu more time to
sell its Italian plant Acciai Speciali Terni (AST), the company
said on Friday.
Selling the Terni steel plant, one of Europe's biggest and
most modern, is a condition for Outokumpu to gain approval from
the EU competition authority for the acquisition of Inoxum,
ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel arm.
The Finnish steel producer asked for the extension to the
May 7 deadline because it was not satisfied with the number of
bids it received and the price offered, three sources said.
The Terni site, valued by one analyst at up to $1 billion
about a year ago, has lost much of its value because of a steep
deterioration of economic and market conditions in Europe.
In Outokumpu's books it now has a value of 560 million euros
($726 million) but is expected to sell for less, given the time
pressure Outokumpu is under if it wants to go ahead with the
Outokumpu declined to say how much more time it has been
granted, but sources said the Commission gave it until the end
A Commission spokesman declined to give an immediate
U.S. private equity fund Apollo and a consortium led by
Luxembourg-based steelmaker Aperam, with Italian steel
companies Arvedi and Marcegaglia, placed binding bids for AST
late last month.
Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan, meanwhile, placed a
"I don't think an extra two months or so will change the
situation much. All the parties interested in this company have
already come forward," a source close to the company said.
The Terni plant has much bigger capacity for hot-rolled
steel, a semi-finished product, than for finished cold-rolled
The Aperam consortium would be a better match for the plant,
market experts say, because the three steelmakers in the
consortium could use their own plants to process the extra
hot-rolled steel produced in Terni.
"Terni as a standalone plant has a big imbalance between
hot-rolled and cold-rolled products and it needs economies of
scale. So I don't see any future for the plant if not with
another European producer," Marcegaglia CEO Antonio Marcegaglia
Arvedi and Marcegaglia would each have a 10 percent share in
the Terni plant, with the option to increase their stakes to 20
percent should the consortium's bid succeed, sources said.
However, an intervention of the EU competition authority
could put the consortium bid at risk.
Aperam would no longer be interested in pursuing the
acquisition should the EU impose heavy conditions, such as the
sale of other plants, an Aperam spokesman said.
($1 = 0.7709 euros)
(Editing by David Goodman)