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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Mittal sets date of Arcelor offer
Mittal steel plant in Poland
A tie-up would give the two firms 10% of the world's total steel output
Mittal Steel will officially launch its takeover bid for European steel giant Arcelor in two weeks' time, chief executive Lakshmi Mittal has confirmed.

The cash and stock offer is estimated to be worth 20.5bn euros ($25.13bn, 14.2bn) and will need approval from European regulators.

"We are expecting that in the next two weeks the regulators will make it official," Mr Mittal said.

If it wins approval, Arcelor investors will have 35 days to accept the offer.

Mr Mittal made the comments following a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt to discuss the deal.

Proposal examined

The country's French-speaking Wallonia region owns a 2.4% stake in Arcelor, and has not yet decided whether to sell its holding.

HQ in Rotterdam/London
225,000 employees
Steelmaking facilities in 16 countries
Customers in 120 countries
Shipped 49.2m tons in 2005
Revenues of $28.1bn in 2005
Luxembourg-based Arcelor employs around 15,000 people in Belgium.

So far the proposed takeover has drawn criticism from France, Luxembourg and Spain.

However, Belgium has refused to give any views on the move until its has thoroughly examined Mittal's business plan.

"We are not changing our offer. It is already a very attractive offer with the cash and shares," Mr Mittal told journalists following the meeting.

The deal would have to face examination by the EU competition authorities in Brussels. Anti-trust experts and industry analysts expect the deal to win approval from regulators due to the largely complementary nature of the combined group.

They added that the European Commission is likely to use the opportunity to clamp down on what its sees as a rising wave of protectionism by EU members. France and Luxembourg are widely seen as trying to use their muscle to protect Arcelor from the takeover.

Stark warning

Mr Mittal warned Arcelor that its attempts to defend itself against Mittal's overtures were "sinking the business".

HQ in Luxembourg
94,000 employees
Shipped 46m tons in 2005
Revenues of 32.6bn euros in 2005
Formed in 2002 by merger of European firms Arbed, Aceralia and Usinor

Earlier this month Arcelor said it would raise its 2005 dividend from 1.20 euros a share to 1.85 euros, in addition to returning 5bn euros to shareholders, in an effort to see off Mittal's bid.

It also ring-fenced its recent acquisition of Canadian steel firm Dofasco, by transferring its shares in the company to a Dutch foundation.

Arcelor is the world's second largest steel company and employs 98,000 people worldwide.

Anglo-Dutch Mittal is the world's largest steelmaker - but the firm argues that Europe needs a stronger steel sector to compete with China.

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

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