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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 19:23 GMT
Belgium open-minded on Mittal bid
Arcelor boss Guy Dolle arrives for talks with the Belgian prime minister
Mr Dolle is vehemently opposed to the Mittal proposal
The Belgian government has refused to make an early decision on whether it opposes or supports Mittal Steel's hostile bid for European rival Arcelor.

Unlike the Luxembourg and French governments, which have already expressed their opposition, Brussels said it wanted more information.

Belgium is now going to ask an investment bank to study Mittal's 18.6bn euro ($22.3bn: 12.7bn) bid.

The country's Walloon region owns a 2.3% stake in Luxembourg-based Arcelor.

'Stronger sector'

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's said he wanted Anglo-Dutch Mittal to provide more information on its takeover plans, and for Arcelor to give more details of how it intends to continue on its own.

HQ in Rotterdam/London
175,000 employees
Shipped 42m tonnes in 2004
Revenues of $22bn

His comments came after he met with both companies on Monday.

Neither Mittal boss Lakshmi Mittal or his Arcelor opposite number Guy Dolle spoke to reporters after the meetings.

Mr Mittal, who says Europe needs a stronger steel sector to compete with China, has struggled to convince leading European politicians about the merits of his firm's bid.

Job loss fears

Mittal's proposed takeover of Arcelor would create an industry giant, accounting for about 10% of the world's total steel output.

HQ in Luxembourg
94,000 employees
Shipped 44m tons in 2004
Revenues of 30bn euros

But Mr Dolle said last week that a deal would amount to a raid on its cash flow to fund the rebuilding of Mittal's plants.

Arcelor employs 98,000 people worldwide. It was created in a merger four years ago between three steel companies - Spain's Aceralia, France's Usinor and Luxembourg's Arbed.

Luxembourg is the largest single shareholder in Arcelor with a stake of 5.6%.

The French Government is particularly worried about the possible impact on Arcelor's 28,000 French staff, despite assurances from Mittal.

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