BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — ArcelorMittal won approval from Arcelor SA's shareholders Monday to complete the long-awaited euro30 billion (US$41 billion) merger that creates the world's largest steel maker by volume.
The votes, held in Luxembourg, mark the last step in the marriage of Arcelor and Mittal Steel Co. after Mittal shareholders approved the merger in a similar series of votes in August.
Once the legal documents have been notarized, the merger will take effect Nov. 13, the company has said. The companies are already operating together.
''With the successful integration of the Mittal and Arcelor teams complete, (Monday's meetings) mark the final step in our legal and technical integration. As one company in every sense, we look forward to continued progress as the world's leading steel company,'' ArcelorMittal chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said.
However, Monday's milestone was marred by the promise of several lawsuits against ArcelorMittal and other parties involved in the merger.
Hedge funds and Arcelor minority shareholders Deminor Investment Management, Trafalgar Asset Managers and SRM Global Fund said Monday they will file a lawsuit this week in Luxembourg against the steel company, seeking damages related to the company's final offer to them for the last 6 percent of Arcelor in free float.
The hedge funds and other disgruntled minority shareholders were offered 11 ArcelorMittal shares in exchange for seven Arcelor shares in August 2006. However, the offer was lowered in May this year to eight ArcelorMittal shares for seven Arcelor shares.
The total difference comes to some US$1 billion (euro689 million), according to Trafalgar Asset Managers' representative, Suhail Rahuja.
The hedge funds said in a statement they will also launch cases ''against any party liable, without distinction, in any possible jurisdiction, in order to recover losses resulting from the dilution (of the offer).''
ArcelorMittal said ''the exchange ratio reflects the intrinsic value of those companies and that we are confident it is fair to all shareholders.''
Mittal's acquisition of Arcelor has had a rocky road toward completion as U.S. regulators ordered Mittal to sell off one of its major American steel plants and the Brazilian market watchdog forced it to spend up to euro4 billion (US$5.43 billion) to buy out Arcelor's Latin American steel units.
The joint company has 320,000 employees in over 60 countries.
ArcelorMittal shares fell 0.4 percent to euro52.27 (US$75.85).