U.S. Steel has confirmed it will not sell its plant in Košice, eastern Slovakia. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and David Rintoul, the president of U.S. Steel Košice signed a memorandum on the continued presence of the US steelmaker in the east of Slovakia on March 26. Environment Minister Peter Žiga and Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský also signed the memo in Košice, the Sme daily wrote on its website.
“I want to thank you for this moment, which I consider to be crucial not just for the east, but for the whole of Slovakia,” Fico said, as quoted by Sme. “The contract guarantees the presence of U.S. Steel in eastern Slovakia for at least five years – and then, we will re-assess the conditions. We created conditions to motivate them to stay and produce steel here,” he added, saying that the US company pledged to maintain employment at the plant and not launch mass layoffs.
Rintoul said that the company had enjoyed good relations with the Slovak government since it bought the steelworks, the largest private employer in eastern Slovakia. These close ties culminated on March 26 with the announcement that U.S. Steel is to stay, he added. The memorandum, which is binding for both sides, is the result of talks on Monday between Fico and representatives of U.S. Steel at the firm’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.
Reports that U.S. Steel was planning to leave Košice emerged late last year. Speculation spread about the sale of the plant, which employs almost 13,000 people, to a Ukrainian or Russian oligarch. The US firm’s move was reported to have been prompted by new EU environmental rules. The exact terms of the deal have not been released, but according to the www.hnonline.sk news website, Fico promised the firm state aid and allowances; reduction of energy costs; a higher purchase price for the electric power it produces in its own on-site power station, and subsidies to reconstruct the power station’s boilers – although none of the cost is to come from the state budget, Sme quoted the website as saying.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
26. Mar 2013 at 14:00