Bidding war for former British Steel nears end

Steelmaking firms from India and Brazil are gearing up for the start of a last-ditch bidding war for former British Steel company Corus.

Steelmaking firms from India and Brazil are gearing up for the start of a last-ditch bidding war for former British Steel company Corus.

Attention will be focused on India's Tata, which has until the end of the month to dislodge an offer already on the table from Brazil's CSN.

The Corus board last month backed a 515p a share offer worth £4.9bn (€7.46bn) from CSN - just hours after agreeing a 500p deal with Tata, which valued Corus at £4.7bn (€7.16bn). Tata has been "considering its position" since then.

Corus - which was formed when British Steel merged with Dutch rival Hoogovens in 1999 and is the eight largest steel producer in the world - became the subject of a bidding war when it backed a 455p a share offer from Tata in October. Shares are now more than 170% higher than the 200p of 18 months ago.

One report said Tata could make a fresh approach worth 550p a share, which would value Corus at £5.2bn (€7.9bn). It could wait until the last possible moment before making its move.

It was also claimed that CSN had put in place additional finance in the event that Tata came in with a higher offer.

The Takeover Panel has ruled that the two companies have until January 30 to make any revised offers.

The fight for Corus comes at a time of consolidation in the steel industry and follows the summer acquisition of Arcelor by Lakshmi Mittal's Mittal Steel to create a global powerhouse with output of more than 110 million tonnes of steel a year.

Corus, which has been searching for a business partner for the last 12 months, has been under pressure to link with a low-cost rival as rising raw material and energy costs in the UK and the Netherlands chipped away at profits.

CSN said the proposed deal will give Corus access to high-quality, low-cost iron ore from CSN's Casa de Pedra mine in Brazil as well fast-growing markets in South America.

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