Arcelor Mittal May Be Interested In $4.5 Billion Bid For AK Steel

Media reports speculate that Arcelor Mittal is interested in bidding for AK Steel, but AK Steel execs and union refuse to comment.

CINCINNATI (AP) - Shares in AK Steel Holding Corp. soared Tuesday after a report that Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, was considering a takeover bid.

Arcelor Mittal spokesman Luc Scheer said the company had no comment on the report on a Financial Times website, which said the company may make a $40 a share bid for AK Steel, valuing it at $4.5 billion.

''We don't have any comment,'' AK spokesman Alan McCoy said. Jim Tyler, spokesman for the Machinists union members at the company's largest mill in Middletown, near Cincinnati, said the union had no comment.

AK Steel Chief Executive James Wainscott has repeatedly said during conference calls with analysts about earnings reports that AK wants to stay independent.

Union workers at AK Steel's Middletown Works recently agreed on a new contract after a nearly 13-month lockout. Some analysts had speculated that AK would become a takeover target once it shed some of its legacy costs and had a long-term labor agreement in place.

Such an acquisition would follow other recent consolidations in the steel industry, which includes Mittal Steel's much larger hostile bid for Arcelor and then Tata Steel Ltd.'s purchase of Corus.

Arcelor SA, based in Luxembourg, and Mittal Steel Co. NV, based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said last week they had moved on the first legal step of forming their combined company to be known as ArcelorMittal. After the estimated $41 billion deal, the company will control around 10 percent of global steel production.

Mittal Steel already has a strong presence in the Ohio area. It bought Cleveland-based International Steel Group in 2005 in a deal that included plants in Ohio and Weirton Steel in Weirton, West Virginia, across the Ohio River from Steubenville.

AK Steel makes flat-rolled carbon steel and stainless and electrical steel used in cars and appliances. Besides Middletown, AK Steel has smaller plants in Zanesville, Mansfield and Coshocton, Ohio; Ashland, Kentucky; Rockport, Indiana; and Butler, Pennsylvania.