If its American owners decided to sell the steelmaker U.S. Steel Košice (USSK), the state would ponder part acquisition of the business. Prime Minister Robert Fico said this during a discussion organised by the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily on December 12. He added that the Slovak cabinet does not have any official information about such an intention, i.e. the sale of the steelmaker. Last week rumours that U. S. Steel is selling its plant in Košice reappeared again.
PM Fico specified that if U.S. Steel were selling the plant and some potential new owner emerged, he could imagine as one variant that the state would discuss possible co-participation or some participation in the new ownership structure.
He pointed out that thousands of lives are linked to steel production in Košice and promised that as long as he is the prime minister, he will do his utmost to keep steel production in Košice. He admitted that steelmakers need help as far as dumping prices are concerned and that the European Union has recently done quite a lot in this respect. In Europe, steelmakers are suffering from cheap steel imports, especially from China.
The Slovak prime minister pointed out that USSK employs a large number of workers and that the cabinet had in the past, following pressure from owners, discussed conditions for their future in Slovakia. He stressed that both the state as well as the owners are keeping to the agreed-upon conditions but Fico added that sometimes it is difficult to persuade the owners of a company to stay, as it is a question of private property.
The Slovak cabinet, according to Fico, has called on the American owners to inform it of their intentions. As Fico said, the government wants steel production in eastern Slovakia to continue and the current owner is respectable and meets its obligations both towards the state and especially towards people.
The dailies Sme and Hospodárske Noviny reported during the first week of December that Chinese investors as well as a group of Slovak millionaires standing behind the Třinecké Železárny branch of the Czech-Slovak group Moravia Steel have submitted bids to U.S. Steel for the purchase of USSK.
The Slovak government signed a memorandum with U. S. Steel back in 2013, in which USSK promised to remain in Košice and maintain its employment levels until 2018, while the government promised to help cut the firm’s energy and environmental bills. If the Americans choose to sell USSK earlier, they will be subject to sanctions.
12. Dec 2016 at 22:12 | Compiled by Spectator staff