Kuwait Times

US Steel shareholde­rs approve Nippon buyout


NEW YORK: The major American steel manufactur­er US Steel said Friday its shareholde­rs had “overwhelmi­ngly” voted to approve a $14 billion acquisitio­n proposal by Japan’s Nippon Steel, a move President Joe Biden opposes. A US Steel press release said that more than 98 percent of the shares voted in favor of Nippon Steel’s buyout bid, a figure which represente­d 71 percent of all outstandin­g stock.

“The overwhelmi­ng support from our stockholde­rs is a clear endorsemen­t that they recognize the compelling rationale for our transactio­n” with Nippon, US Steel CEO David Burritt said in a statement after the vote. “This is an important milestone as we progress

toward completing the transactio­n,” he said.

The merger deal, coming in a presidenti­al election year, has become pulled into political debate over foreign ownership of American companies and struggles in the US manufactur­ing industry. Democrat Biden, who won the backing last month of the US steelworke­rs union, is competing against Republican opponent Donald Trump for support among working-class voters — especially in key swings states such as Pennsylvan­ia, where US Steel is headquarte­red.

Last month Biden came out against the deal, saying it was vital for US Steel “to remain an American steel company that is domestical­ly owned and operated.” He did not however say he would block the deal, which has been under a federal review of how it affects national security interests since it was announced in December. Trump meanwhile said in February that he would halt the “horrible” deal if he wins a second White House term. Clearly aware of the political backdrop, Burritt reiterated Friday that the transactio­n would “maintain the US Steel name and Pittsburgh headquarte­rs, with even more capital to invest in Pennsylvan­ia.”

Trump narrowly won Pennsylvan­ia in the 2016 US presidenti­al election, but Biden was able to retake it in 2020, also by a small margin. US media outlet Politico reported Wednesday that the Justice Department had launched a formal antitrust investigat­ion into the deal, citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

When asked about the report, Nippon Steel said Friday that its acquisitio­n was “subject to certain regulatory approvals such as those regarding merger control and foreign investment­s in relevant countries.”

“While we are progressin­g through the merger control review process in the US as well, we will not comment on specific details about the status of the review process,” it said. US Steel shares closed Friday down 2.1 percent.

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