ArcelorMittal crossed a major regulatory hurdle in its bid to team up with a Japanese steelmaker to buy a German steel finishing facility in Alabama, and should be able to complete the purchase sooner than expected.
The Belgium-based steelmaker announced the federal government has ended its antitrust investigation, satisfying a condition to closing a purchase of a ThyssenKrupp plant in Calvert, Ala. ArcelorMittal, which has an extensive presence in Northwest Indiana, is partnering with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp. to buy the rolling and finishing plant for $1.55 billion.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division had to review the deal because it will increase ArcelorMittal's U.S. market share, but analysts believed that was largely a formality because financial pressures have already forced significant consolidation in the steel industry over the last few decades.
ArcelorMittal, which already furnishes 40 percent of the steel to U.S. automakers, will be positioned to supply auto factories in the south.
Further regulatory approvals are needed, but the deal is expected to close later in the first quarter or in the second quarter of this year.
"We're excited about the opportunities the Calvert facility provides and are eager to begin working together to build on the foundation of achieving the plant's full capability," said Mike Rippey, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA. "We are actively planning for the integration of Calvert our overall business after closing, which remains subject to antitrust approval in several other countries and other conditions. We are optimistic that the acquisition will close later this quarter or next quarter."