U.S. Steel Sale Grapples with Antitrust Challenge

(IntegrityTimes.com) – On Thursday March 14, President Biden released a public statement opposing the $15 billion takeover of U.S. Steel by Japanese company Nippon Steel. The purchase was announced in December and there has been rising resistance to the deal from various quarters including the United Steelworkers union. The statement went on to clarify that it is important for American steel companies to be domestically owned and operated.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) may be investigating the proposed purchase for potential antitrust concerns, with special focus on a large Calvert, Alabama plant, operated with ArcelorMittal, which competes directly with U.S. Steel that Nippon Steel has a joint stake in. Some are saying this issue could be easily resolved if Nippon Steel were to sell their 50 percent stake to ArcelorMittal. Nippon Steel has suggested that no U.S. steel company could have met the challenges they are facing and also meet the antitrust requirements.

However, the deal has faced wide bipartisan criticism, and the antitrust concerns are only part of that. Pennsylvania Democrats Senator Bob Casey, Senator John Fetterman, and Representative Chris Deluzio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding intervention from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) calling the deal a “step backwards” for national security. Republican senators JD Vance, Josh Hawley, and Marco Rubio sent a similar letter to Yellen, also citing national security.

Nippon Steel has pledged to strengthen American supply chains and help provide economic defenses against China. In a public statement they have stated the deal would benefit U.S. Steel, union workers, the broader American steel industry, as well as American national security They have also promised to not cut jobs, close facilities or move production overseas. American steel manufacturer Cleveland-Cliffs made an offer to purchase U.S. Steel last year, but their offer was rejected on the basis that it may not pass antitrust rules. Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves recently suggested that if the Nippon Steel deal falls through, they would be interested in making another offer.

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