Wheeling-Pittsburgh( WPSC) stood by its planned merger with Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (SID) - Get Companhia Siderurgica Nacional S.A. Report after a competing bidder and a key union said the plug had been pulled.
The Wheeling, W.Va., steel company also said it settled a dispute with the United Steelworkers union over the union's right to bid. Wheeling-Pitt said the union's right will expire Oct. 15 under the agreement.
The news comes on a day that earlier saw rival bidder Esmark of Chicago and the steelworkers proclaim the demise of the merger with Brazil's Siderurgica. But after the market closed Tuesday, Wheeling-Pitt said it expects to hold a special shareholder meeting on the proposed CSN transaction in January 2007.
"Reports that the CSN proposal has been terminated are simply not factual," said CEO James G. Bradley. "I want to state clearly that there is no change in our commitment to finalize arrangements between CSN and Wheeling-Pittsburgh. We have worked with the Union to settle a grievance involving the length of the right to bid period and together have set October 15 as the conclusion of the time period. This gives our shareholders a clear roadmap to January 2007, when we anticipate holding a special shareholder meeting to approve the proposed CSN transaction. Additionally, CSN has said that if the Union leadership were to consent, CSN would consider providing a cash alternative to its offer on the current merger proposal."
Wheeling-Pitt also reiterated its stance that the Esmark proposal "was rejected because it was an inferior bid with unsubstantiated claims."
No merger proposal is to be voted on at the Company's Annual Shareholders meeting on Nov. 17, Wheeling-Pitt said. Wheeling-Pittsburgh shareholders will vote to elect the Company's board of directors, choosing between the Company's slate of current directors designated by the independent nomination committee and a slate supported by Esmark. Esmark has made no proposal to merge with Wheeling- Pittsburgh for consideration by shareholders at that meeting, Wheeling-Pitt said.