* Undisclosed number of rivals bid for Slovak unit
* Slovak production set for central, western Europe mkts
* Supplies car, construction, packaging, other sectors
By Martin Santa
BRATISLAVA, Nov 12 Investors have expressed
interest in U.S. Steel Corp's Slovak operation because of
its location, low labour costs and product portfolio, the
company said on Monday.
U.S. Steel Kosice, the euro zone country's largest private
corporate employer with more than 11,000 staff including
subsidiaries, is an important supplier for Slovakia's booming
car industry, the key driver of the small economy.
Jan Baca, spokesman for U.S. Steel Kosice, confirmed that it
had received approaches, but he would not comment on reports
that German group ThyssenKrupp and investors from
Ukraine were among those interested.
Steelmaking conglomerate Thyssen, in the throes of a radical
restructuring in which it is trying to sell assets to slash debt
and refocus the group on its core European business, denied any
interest in the company.
The Pittsburg-based parent company said in October that
plummeting steel prices, suffering from the global economic
slowdown and weak demand in China, will dent its fourth-quarter
Baca cited U.S. Steel Kosice's (USSK) good product portfolio
for growing markets in the Czech republic, Hungary, Poland and
Slovakia as factors behind investors' interest.
He acknowledged that U.S. Steel Corp will "explore this
interest" but that no decisions had been made.
The euro zone debt crisis, accompanied by rising energy and
raw material costs, dented U.S. Steel's Slovak revenues last
year. The Slovak business recorded a net loss of 25 million
euros ($31.8 million) in 2011, compared with a 96 million euro
profit a year earlier.
USSK, with annual raw steel production capacity of 4.5
million metric tons, supplies steel-consuming sectors including
the construction, automotive, packaging, transportation,
appliance, electrical, oil and gas and petrochemical industries.
The Slovak unit produced 3.3 million metric tons of pig iron
and 3.8 million metric tons of steel slabs last year.