Chirac fires hostile broadside back at Mittal

20th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

NEW DELHI, Feb 20, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday accused Mittal Steel of launching its hostile bid to buy Arcelor without unveiling any plan for the European steelmaker Arcelor.

NEW DELHI, Feb 20, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday accused Mittal Steel of launching its hostile bid to buy Arcelor without unveiling any plan for the European steelmaker Arcelor.

The 18.6 billion euro bid was "hostile, what is called an unfriendly bid, purely financial, that is to say without any industrial plan being known or revealed and contrary to custom, without any prior consultation," Chirac told a press conference.

"It's his right," to make the surprise bid, Chirac said referring to Indian industrialist Lakshmi Mittal, head of Netherlands-based Mittal Steel.

"In fact it's also the right of the Europeans to be concerned about employment problems, technology problems," the French leader said.

The comments came after Mittal told an Indian television station on Sunday he was "very sad" about "racist" remarks made about his bid to create a giant controlling some 10 percent of the global steel market.

Arcelor has rejected the offer and enlisted the help of European governments. The Luxembourg-based company is composed of formerly national steel interests from France, Luxembourg and Spain, but also has activities in Belgium.

France, Spain and Luxembourg have opposed the takeover, while Belgium has remained neutral and Britain supports Mittal, who lives in London.

Chirac said he did not understand the fuss, adding: "We have nothing against an operation led by a foreign group against a European group but we would like to know what the plan is."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had discussed the hostile bid with Chirac on Monday, but skirted the row.

"The president explained the position in detail and it's my hope that a fair decision taking into account the interests of all the stakeholders will be taken in this matter," Singh said.

Billionaire Mittal, an Indian citizen, told private NDTV television network the issue did not just affect him.

"This is not an issue of Lakshmi Mittal. It is a much larger issue," he said. "If a company like ours faces resistance for merger, it could affect businessmen in India who are aspiring to expand globally."

Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath last week warned European governments not to consider skin colour in business deals.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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