U.S. Steel in Košice is supposedly for sale again, according to the Hospodárske Noviny daily.
The newspaper cited reliable sources in the east of Slovakia for its, but neither the company nor the Economy Ministry have provided a clear answer on the veracity of the story.
According to Hospodárske Noviny, several foreign companies have shown an interest in buying the steelworks. It says that negotiations have been underway for some time already, but there is no information as to how many investors are involved, what phase the negotiations are in, or what the offers are.
The plant is the largest employer in eastern Slovakia and the report of its potential sale comes with the firm reporting good financial results.
Few details revealed
This is not the first time reports have emerged claiming U. S. Steel was about to be sold. Five years ago, the company was reportedly considering two offers from Chinese buyers and one from a Czech firm.
According to the company's spokesperson, Ján Bača, the company continues seeking partnerships, both in the US and Slovakia, that would help it achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
"We have been in Slovakia for more than two decades and we appreciate the strong relationship we have with residents and the government," said Bača, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
He added they will announce any news concerning potential new partnerships, but that for now, there is nothing to say.
The Economy Ministry has not commented either.
"Given the fact it's a private company, any questions must be addressed to U.S. Steel," said the ministry, as quoted by TASR.
Potentially high price
Speaking to Hospodárske Noviny, Tomáš Ferech, a Capital Markets analyst, suggested the motivation behind the sale might be that the company's income for last year set an all-time record, thus the plant's sale price could be higher than the last time it was approached by buyers. The price is high because of both the income and the record high prices of steel.
Another reason for the sale might be the bigger picture of the sector in Europe. The market's production capacity has declined by 25 percent in the last eight years. Moreover, the steelworks is dependent on the import of raw materials from Ukraine, especially iron ore. At the moment, supplies are coming, but that might change in the future.
Still, the statements of U.S. Steel might not be a confirmation that the company actually wants to sell the factory. The company previously said that the Slovak government could be a partner in terms of new investments, the Denník N daily reported.