ArcelorMittal Says Ukraine Drops Suit Over Steel Mill

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukrainian prosecutors on Tuesday withdrew a lawsuit against ArcelorMittal that could have stripped the world's largest steelmaker of a $4.8 billion privatized mill, the company said.

ArcelorMittal, which had in 2005 agreed to renovate the Kryvorizhstal steel mill in eastern Ukraine, in 2009 postponed the investment because of the global financial crisis.

That triggered a lawsuit by the government, whose prosecutors say that Arcelor's deal to postpone the investment lacked the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The company says such an approval from the Cabinet was not necessary and cited the example of coal companies that have been allowed to delay their investments.

Arcelor charged that the prosecutor's lawsuit was the government's illegal attempt to renationalize the plant and that it would badly hurt Ukraine's investment climate.

Arcelor spokeswoman Anna Honcharyk said prosecutors withdrew their lawsuit Tuesday. The Prosecutor's office declined immediate comment.

The move comes after Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday that ArcelorMittal would not lose the plant.

ArcelorMittal praised the prosecutor's decision.

"Now we can get back to dialogue, sit down and have a normal conversation," said Renat Starkov, head of the Kryvorizhstal mill.

Starkov said the company was committed to fully completing the investment plan and was ready to discuss new deadlines and conditions with the government. "We will fulfill all our commitments," Starkov told The Associated Press.

The plant was sold to Mittal Steel, which is now known as ArcelorMittal, in 2005 in the country's biggest and most profitable privatization auction ever.