(Bloomberg) — The United States Steel Corporation has begun a formal review of strategic alternatives as it rejected an offer to sell itself to rival Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
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Ohio-based Cliffs said Sunday it offered to pay $17.50 in cash and 1,023 of its own shares for each US Steel share. That means a value of $32.53 per share as of Friday’s close, a 43% premium to US Steel’s last closing price of $22.72 and a suggested market value of approximately $7.25 billion.
US Steel on Sunday rejected the offer, calling it “unreasonable,” according to Cleaves’ statement. Hours earlier, Pittsburgh-based US Steel said it had begun a formal review of strategic alternatives after receiving “multiple unsolicited” proposals, ranging from the acquisition of certain production assets to offers for the entire company.
Read more: US Steel begins strategic review after bids are obtained
Cleaves, who has been the most active dealmaker in the US steel industry for the past few years, said the proposed deal would have created one of the largest steelmakers in the world. The company is “willing” to enter the offer despite the rejection.
Previously just an iron ore producer that didn’t make steel, Cliffs decided to snap up AK Steel Holding Corp. in 2019 and ArcelorMittal operations in the US in 2020. The purchases have made Cliffs the dominant operator of conventional furnaces in the US, with a foothold in the highly profitable auto steelmaking business.
Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves, known for his combative personality that rarely gives way to public opinion, owns a steady stream of the country’s integrated traditional mills, but still has little influence in electric arc furnaces, which remelt scrap into steel.
The bid comes amid a years-long transition period for U.S. Steel, which traces its roots back to 1901 when J. Pierpont Morgan merged a portfolio of assets with CEO of Carnegie Steel Co. from the then-struggling metals producer in 2017, when some investors feared it was on the path to bankruptcy.
Since Burritt’s arrival, the company has undergone a massive shift in its manufacturing process, focusing on furnaces that remelt scrap into steel rather than creating metal from iron ore in the traditional way. Burritt has bought Big River Steel in Arkansas and expects to inject an additional $3 billion into the operation by 2024 to double its capacity. The bet has paid off, as the company’s shares have more than doubled since the end of 2019.
US Steel has appointed Barclays Capital and Goldman Sachs as financial advisors for its strategic review. The steelmaker has not set a deadline for completing the review, the company said in its statement, and the process may not lead to a deal or other strategic outcome.
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