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Business deals

Nippon Steel and ArcelorMittal complete Indian steelmaker buyout

Long-sought takeover of Essar Steel realized after multiple court battles

ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel have obtained a foothold in India, a country that targets big growth in steel production capacity.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- ArcelorMittal and Japan's Nippon Steel have completed their 500 billion rupee ($7 billion) takeover of Essar Steel India after a marathon series of court battles.

The partners said Monday they will operate the Indian steelmaker through a joint venture. Nippon Steel takes a 40% stake through the deal, making it the biggest offshore acquisition in the company's history.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, owns 60% of the venture, dubbed ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India.

Essar Steel India put itself up for sale in February 2018 after defaulting on a massive debt incurred from investments gone sour. ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel agreed to pursue the joint purchase a month later.

But the deal was tied up in court by a competing offer from Essar's stakeholders. The National Company Law Tribunal ruled in favor of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel in March of this year.

The takeover was later put on hold by India's Supreme Court as it reviewed an appeal by a consortium of creditors, with the distribution of funds serving as the main point of contention. The court eventually green lighted the acquisition last month.

"Our combined strengths and technology will bring many new opportunities which will allow us to make a positive contribution to India's target to grow steelmaking capacity," ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement.

Eiji Hashimoto, president of Nippon Steel, pledged to "promptly implement" the turnaround plan for Essar, which was India's fourth-largest steelmaker. During the year ended in March 2018, Essar Steel amassed sales of 260.3 billion rupees, and its crude steel production capacity totaled 9.6 million tons.

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