Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in stock and cash for ArcelorMittal USA’s 19 steel and iron-mining facilities, including plants in Conshohocken and Coatesville, in a deal that puts much of the U.S. steel industry back under U.S. control.
The sale will turn U.S. steel mills collected since 2005 by London-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal and his European companies over to Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs. With other newly-acquired operations, that makes Cleveland-Cliffs North America’s largest maker of the flat-rolled steel used in vehicles, buildings and appliances, with 25,000 employees, $17 billion in yearly sales, and a large debt.
“Our success will not come from lower prices. It will come from quality, the ability to deliver on time,” and the use of “green” technologies such as substituting cleaner-burning natural gas from the coke fuel made from smoky coal, said CEO Lourenco Goncalves an energetic immigrant who has been compared to radical Tesla founder Elon Musk.
This deal to return so many steel mills to U.S. ownership comes just a day before the first Trump-Biden presidential debate is scheduled for the buyer’s hometown of Cleveland, after a campaign in which the candidates have argued the causes and cures of the long-term decline of U.S. steelmaking and other heavy industries, said J. Chris Rooney, president of Vanness Co., a Jacksonsonville, Fl. financial consulting firm.
He said ArcelorMittal, which owns foreign as well as U.S. mills, failed to take broad advantage of Trump administration steel import restrictions. For example, instead of producing more high-quality vehicle steel, ArcelorMittal mills in Pennsylvania continued producing lower-quality, lower-value cheap steel for rebar and other basic construction uses.
That had forced U.S. trade representative Peter Navarro to reverse the administration’s protectionist policy