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Business deals

India's Essar Steel won't select buyer until summer

Bids by ArcelorMittal and Numetal already rejected once by creditors

Essar Steel India will not be able to pick a buyer until July at the earliest.   © The Canadian Press/AP

MUMBAI -- Essar Steel India will not announce its buyer until at least July amid protracted controversy over the eligibility of two competing bids, Indian media report.

The nation's fourth-largest steelmaker is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings and will be dissolved unless it can have a rehabilitation plan under a new owner approved before a legally mandated deadline. The date was initially set for late April and later rescheduled to Monday.

ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal are vying together for Essar in the second round of bidding, competing against a joint bid by Russian-capital-backed Numetal Mauritius and India's JSW Steel. JSW is 15%-owned by JFE Holdings unit JFE Steel.

The ArcelorMittal team and Numetal were also in the first round but were disqualified by Essar's committee of creditors.

Both ArcelorMittal and Numetal have appealed that decision. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal had been reviewing the validity of their bids and the method for the second round but will take a one-month break in June. It has set the next hearing for July 23.

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