Monopoly watchdogs eye steel deal

SLOVAKIA'S Antimonopoly Office (PMÚ) has begun an examination into the planned entry of steel giant US Steel into the Sartid steelworks, currently owned by the Serbian state.

Officials from the PMÚ are to decide if the acquisition will limit the functioning of an open market in Slovakia.

"Although this concentration involves foreign entities, the PMÚ has decided to examine it, as it may have an impact on economic competition in Slovakia," said a PMÚ spokesperson on April 22, adding that antimonopoly authorities in all countries the merger could affect would also be looking into the deal.

According to Christopher Navetta, president of US Steel's Slovak subsidiary US Steel Košice (USSK), the acquisition of the Serbian steelworks should be completed by the fall of 2003.

US Steel has been in Slovakia since 2000 following the acquisition of the metallurgical operations of Eastern Slovak Ironworks (VSŽ) near the eastern Slovak city of Košice. In the last two years investments into USSK have topped $150 million (€138 million); when it bought the steelworks, US Steel had pledged to invest $700 million (€644 million) within 10 years.

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