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Ministers, U.S. Steel still negotiating

THE FUTURE of the steelworks in Košice, which is the biggest employer in eastern Slovakia and is currently owned by U.S. Steel, remains unclear. U.S. Steel representatives are reportedly still talking to the government about the possibility that the company could stay, despite it announcing last year that it was planning to sell the plant.

THE FUTURE of the steelworks in Košice, which is the biggest employer in eastern Slovakia and is currently owned by U.S. Steel, remains unclear. U.S. Steel representatives are reportedly still talking to the government about the possibility that the company could stay, despite it announcing last year that it was planning to sell the plant.

When asked about the talks, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to a familiar theme, blaming politicians who helped secure the sale, over 10 years ago, of the then virtually bankrupt steelworks to U.S. Steel, the SITA newswire reported.

“Those who sold the Východoslovenské Železiarne [the former name of the steelworks] are maliciously laughing at the moment, when they see us how we struggle with the Americans to secure employment in this region,” said Fico, as quoted by SITA. “So we are fighting on all fronts. We are doing everything to keep the investor in Slovakia.”

At the moment there are several teams negotiating with U.S. Steel to find solutions in the area of transport, energy and the environment, Fico said, adding that the Americans are interested in further talks.

“I have informally met with the highest representative of U.S. Steel Košice again,” he stressed. “There is a big interest on both sides to continue in these negotiations and to find a solution for this investor to stay in Slovakia.”

U.S. Steel said at the end of last year that it had received offers to sell its Slovak plant, noting that it had good financial results and a strategic position in the region. However, the company’s spokesperson in Košice, Ján Bača, refused to specify exactly what offers had been received. The media later reported that a possible buyer could be the Ukrainian firm Metinvest, which belongs to the System Capital Management group owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, SITA wrote.

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