US Steel Yet to Finish Slovak Unit Sale Talks, Fico Says

U.S. Steel Corp., the largest U.S. producer of metal by volume, has yet to complete talks to sell its Slovak unit, prompting local officials to offer incentives to keep the steelmaker, Slovak Premier Robert Fico said.

Fico said the government is ready to offer incentives to ensure the U.S. company remains at the local plant, one of the largest employers in the country. He met today with the unit’s chief executive officer, David Rintoul, in the capital Bratislava.

Jan Baca, a spokesman for U.S. Steel, declined to comment today on the government’s offer. The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker said Nov. 13 it received an offer for the company’s last European steel mill and is considering it.

“Based on the direction of the discussion, I think that they will rather leave,” Fico told reporters. “If they choose to stay, the government is ready to talk about the conditions.”

U.S. Steel is paring back operations in Europe, where slowing demand is weighing on prices and shipments. In January, it sold its Serbian mill for $1, triggering a $450 million charge in the first quarter.

U.S. Steel bought its Slovak operations in 2000 for $475 million. The have an annual production capacity of 5 million tons and include two coke batteries, three blast furnaces and other units that produce sheets, tin-mill products and pipes.

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