Slovak tycoon reportedly seeks to acquire U.S. Steel Košice

THE MORAVIA Steel company, owned by Prague-based Slovak billionaire Tomáš Chrenek, allegedly has a strong interest in acquiring U.S. Steel’s plant in Košice, the Korzár daily reported on its website on December 9.

U.S. Steel in KošiceU.S. Steel in Košice (Source: TASR)

Several talks have reportedly been held on the proposed transaction with the plant’s current owner, but the two parties have failed to strike an accord on price, according to Korzár.

Since November, Chrenek’s company Agel has been managing the Košice-Šaca hospital which treats many employees from U.S. Steel. This “synergetic effect” is reportedly the reason why Chrenek seeks to acquire the plant.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary for the representatives of our company to meet with representatives of many top companies in the metallurgic or steel industry, both formally and informally,” spokesperson for the Czech Třinec Iron and Steel Works – Moravia Steel group Petra Jurásková said in a statement for Korzár. “If our company has plans for an acquisition, information to this effect will be published in due course and journalists will receive such information. We don’t publish official statements on acquisitions until the respective companies agree on entering into a contract or acquisition.”

U.S. Steel Košice will not comment on the rumour, spokesman of the Košice-based plant Ján Bača said.

Meanwhile, Korzár reported last week that U.S. Steel Košice was looking at a plan to lay off up to 15 percent of its workforce, or more than 1,500 workers. This downsizing supposedly concerns mainly white-collar workers. Korzár reports that it is likely that the Americans want to focus on their domestic operations, which are currently facing stiff competition from cheap Chinese steel and therefore U.S. Steel has to cut production.

It is not known, though, how the take-over would be done, the Sme daily writes in its December 10 issue. The state would probably have to approve the deal; or bypass the condition from 2013 when the state gave aid to the Košice plant but made this conditional on U.S. Steel remaining in Slovakia for five more years and not laying off any staff until at least the end of 2016, according to Sme.

Chrenek is said to be the fourth wealthiest Slovak, with an alleged fortune of up to €510 million.  

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