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Cleveland-Cliffs responds to U.S. Steel allegations

Cleveland-Cliffs Butler Works Holly Mead/ Special to the Butler Eagle

U.S. Steel and Cleveland-Cliffs engaged in a public dispute on May 21 over the former’s deal with Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel.

United States Steel Corp. has accused Cleveland-Cliffs of an effort to “derail the transaction” with Nippon Steel that it has been working to close since December.

The dispute comes amid the week when Nippon leaders are set to meet with local representatives in Pittsburgh.

“While Cleveland-Cliffs is pushing false rumors to influence the market into believing we are working to unwind the transaction, nothing could be further from the truth,” U.S. Steel’s board of directors wrote in a May 21 letter.

The Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs was outbid by Nippon last fall, but has remained interested in buying the Pittsburgh steelmaker.

Cleveland-Cliffs, the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, has responded to the allegations published by the U.S. Steel board of directors, regarding its attempt to sell its company to a foreign buyer without union support.

Chairman, president and chief executive officer Lourenco Goncalves said in a Tuesday news release there is nothing the company has publicized or said publicly that could be described as misinformation.

“At Cleveland-Cliffs, we only deal with transparency,” Goncalves said. “It is unfortunate that the U.S. Steel board of directors is just now realizing that it announced an un-closeable deal and is trying to blame Cliffs for its terrible decision-making.”

The key piece of misinformation, according to the statement by Cleveland-Cliffs, is the U.S. Steel board of directors insisting that the Union had no veto power.

“That ‘misinformation’ remains on U.S. Steel and Nippon Steel’s deal website,” a news release from the steelmaker said.

In a news release, Cleveland-Cliffs cited several instances of the United Steelworkers expressing support of Cleveland-Cliffs for a proposed acquisition of U.S. Steel.

The news release highlighted a statement in August 2023 from the late Tom Conway, former USW International president, saying the union only endorses Cleveland-Cliffs to acquire U.S. Steel and that U.S. President Joe Biden, has said that U.S. Steel should remain a “totally American company.“ The release also noted that former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump has said, regarding the transaction, ”I would block it instantaneously. Absolutely.”

“With a USW-represented facility, you are not entitled to sell to whomever you please,” Goncalves said. “We knew this, and you apparently did not. We tried to explain to you, but you did not listen to us. The board of directors of U.S. Steel failed its stockholders in this ‘strategic review process,’ and is attempting to blame Cliffs for its own self-inflicted disaster.

“My opinion remains the same: You cannot and will not close your announced deal with Nippon Steel.”

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