LTV

(LTV)

and 48 of its units filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing weakening economic conditions and the effect of imports driving down steel prices.

The steel company, which is based in Cleveland, warned that without adequate financing, it would be forced to shut down all of its integrated steel and metal fabrication plants immediately, sell its core assets and cut all 18,000 employees.

"This doomsday scenario, however, doesn't need to happen," the company said in a statement. "We seek only the time and financial resources to adjust to these changes." The company also attributed part of its decision to file for bankruptcy to the federal government's "reluctance to take action against the 'dumping' of unfairly priced steel in the U.S. market by foreign competitors."

Shares of LTV closed Thursday at 34 cents on the

New York Stock Exchange

.