Outokumpu Gets EU Antitrust Complaint Over Inoxum Steel Deal

Outokumpu Oyj, a Finnish maker of stainless steel, received a European Union antitrust complaint over its plan to buy ThyssenKrupp AG’s Inoxum unit and create Europe’s largest maker of the alloy.

Outokumpu got a so-called statement of objections from the European Commission listing regulators’ concerns in detail, Saara Tahvanainen, a spokeswoman for the Espoo, Finland-based company said in a telephone interview. The company will respond to the EU’s concerns at a hearing, she said.

The steelmaker agreed to buy Inoxum on Jan. 31 in a deal valuing the German unit at about 2.7 billion euros ($3.4 billion.) The EU antitrust agency expanded its investigation into the deal in May, saying the transaction would shrink to three the number of producers of stainless steel flat products in Europe. Officials have an Oct. 24 deadline to rule on it.

“We don’t wish to estimate at this point whether this will accelerate or delay the process,” Tahvanainen said. “We’ve had positive and open communication with the commission and expect it to continue.”

A statement of objections sets out regulators’ case for blocking a deal. Companies may seek an oral hearing to defend the deal and can offer to sell assets to resolve any concerns. The EU has blocked two deals in the last two years, including Deutsche Boerse AG’s bid for NYSE Euronext.

Outokumpu has said the Inoxum purchase will result in cost savings. ThyssenKrupp would retain a 29.9 percent stake in the business, receive 1 billion euros in cash, and transfer liabilities of 422 million euros for Inoxum to Outokumpu.

ThyssenKrupp expects to close the deal by the end of 2012, according to an e-mail from the company.

Simon O’Connor, a spokesman for the European Commission, didn’t immediately respond to a call or e-mail outside office hours.

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