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US and EU regulators initiate fresh Nippon US Steel probes

The proposed acquisition of US Steel by Japan’s Nippon Steel is facing new antitrust reviews on two continents, Kallanish understands.

The US Department of Justice has opened an in-depth review of the proposed merger, Politico reports. The news arrives this week during a visit to the White House by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

Upon his arrival in Washington, Kishida expressed confidence that the controversial merger is undergoing fair scrutiny.

“We understand that discussions are underway between the parties,” the Japanese leader commented during a press conference on Wednesday. “We hope that these discussions will unfold in directions that would be positive for both sides. Japan believes that appropriate procedures based on law [are] being implemented by the US government.”

At the joint press conference, US president Joe Biden, who has stated his preference that US Steel remain American-owned (see Kallanish passim), repeated his support for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company’s employees.

“I stand by my commitment to American workers. I’m a man of my word. I’m going to keep it,” Biden remarked.

One day earlier, Nippon Steel appealed to the EUs European Commission (EC) for clearance on its acquisition of US Steel, which since 2000 has owned steelmaking operations in Slovakia. The commission has set a provisional deadline of 17 May to decide whether the arrangement would be incompatible with any EU regulations. That investigative process is categorised as an “ongoing simplified procedure,” according to the EC’s public notice.

Antitrust regulators are the latest to scrutinise the potential deal. An earlier, rejected takeover bid from Cleveland-Cliffs drew concern from downstream steel consumers who complained that such a merger would be anti-competitive (see Kallanish 2 November). In addition to ongoing criticism from US politicians on both sides of the aisle, organised labour is actively fighting the sale to Nippon. The United Steelworkers union has been outspoken in its disapproval of the deal, contending that the combination would violate its labour agreements with US Steel.

By Kristen DiLando

Source: Kallanish