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Nippon Steel highlights its ‘deep roots’ in the United States as it pursues a deal with US Steel

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TOKYO: Nippon Steel intends to pursue its proposed acquisition of US Steel and wants its “deep roots” in the United States to be recognized, its new president said – comments that come after US President Joe Biden expressed his opposition to the agreement.

The Japanese company has agreed to buy US Steel for about $15 billion, but approval of the deal faces an uphill battle in this US election year.

The White House considers steel essential to national security and Biden said last month that US Steel should remain nationally owned. His opponent in November’s presidential election, former President Donald Trump, vowed to block the deal if he was re-elected.

It is unclear whether Biden plans to use U.S. regulatory authorities to thwart the deal.

“What American politicians are concerned about is jobs and whether US Steel can grow as an iconic American company in the United States,” Tadashi Imai told reporters last week before taking his news. functions Monday.

“I am convinced that we are the most useful partner to help US Steel grow in the United States,” he added.

Imai, 60, became chairman following a management shake-up aimed at lowering the average age of top executives, but in a break with tradition, his charismatic former chairman Eiji Hashimoto took the title of chief executive and will be responsible for piloting the acquisition.

The proposed deal has drawn sharp criticism from some lawmakers and the United Steelworkers (USW) union, which is concerned about possible job losses.

Japan’s largest steelmaker has pledged not to cut jobs as a result of the deal, to honor all agreements between the union and US Steel and to move its own US headquarters to Pittsburgh, where US Steel is based.

Imai said he hoped Nippon Steel would come to be seen as a company with deep roots in the United States, noting that it has been present there since the 1980s and has 4,000 employees in the country, some of whom are also members of the USW.

“The most important and only thing we can do is talk in good faith with the United Steelworkers” about investment plans and measures to increase US Steel’s competitiveness, he said. declared.

Imai said the acquisition would give US Steel access to Nippon Steel’s advanced technologies, such as electromagnetic steel sheets, adding that the Japanese company held some 2,000 steel patents in North America, while American steelmakers generally held around 200 each.

At home, Imai’s main focus will be decarbonization, he said, adding that the company will soon have to make investment decisions on whether to invest in new electric furnaces in two sites: the Kyushu Works Yawata site in southern Japan and the Setouchi Works site in Hirohata in Japan. western Japan.

The company needs to decide on projects either this fiscal year or next, Imai said.

“This will be a huge investment…but the time is approaching for a key decision on technical certainty and predictability of return on investment.”

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