Mittal Plays Monopoly
Date: Tuesday, January 31 2006
Mittal is the largest steel company in the world and about to become bigger. Mittal waited like a bird of prey this week as two majour European steel companies; Arcelor and ThyssenKrupp finalized a three month bidding war for Canadian steel maker Dofasco. In a smooth move out of a game of five card stud Mittal shocked the business world, by its acquisition of the successful bidder for Dofasco; Arcelor
In a move that was strictly casino capitalism in the raw Mittal sat out the bidding war for Dofasco between Arcelor and ThyssenKrupp.ThyssenKrupp quit bidding at the begining of this week at $68 a share and Dofasco accepted Arcelor offer of $71 per share.
Mittal swooped in on the cash weakened Arcelor and in a hostile bid offered to buy it, funding part of its vulutre capitalisation by selling Dofasco to ThyssenKrupp for its last bid price. This dumbfounded Wall Street analysists, though some suspected but could not prove collusion between ThyssenKrupp and Mittal.
What Mittal gets is the Iron Ore out of Dofasco, which is what they want for their other Canadian and American mills and to be dominante player in the steel market in North America. ThyssenKrupp gets Dofascos steel operations. Overall its a brilliant play. It eliminates one of Mittals major competitors in Europe, gets it a sold source of Iron Ore, whose price will go up, and keeps ThyssenKrupp in line.
As Globe and Mail Reporter Eric Reguly points out this is all about increasing prices for Iron Ore and Steel and their impact on the global automotive market. It creates a further monopolizaition in the market place.
Mittal was not a player in the bidding war for Dofasco since it had already bought into the North American market last years with the acquisition of American International Steel Group. With high praise from the Canadian born President of the USWA.
The joy that Brother Gerard experesses is one of the new labour attitude towards globalization. It is begining to accept free trade as good for its members, that is good for the fragmented international (in name only) unions in North America versus their industrial counterparts in Europe such as the German and French unions. Like the competing national capitals and global monopolies in steel and automotives, these national unions only look after themselves.
Arcelor unions in France see job cuts if Mittal offer succeeds
In the case of Canada Brother Gerard has not been a friend of Canadian workers, as his union promoted American protectionism against cheap imported steel during the last WTO meeting in Hong Kong. See: Time For A Canadian Steel Workers Union Gerard is perhaps hoping that the silver lining of the takeover of Dofasco will open this once anti-union shop to a union drive for USWA.
In fact Mittal began as a small family based steel company in India and built its way into the market by actually using capital for production rather than using companies as capital for investors. If anyone is a bottom feeder in the world steel market it is the once dominant American steel industry. Which has sold off its holdings for a better corporate placement on Wall Street. Which has meant the closing of main street in Steel Towns across America.
And with success comes the trappings of success. Typical of the Corporate Monopoly capitalist with his trappings of the new economic Aristocracy the Mittal family was caught up in scandal in England. And with questions of how transparent their business practices are.
What worries Arcelor and the French government is that their state run monopoly is about to be absorbed into a much larger private monopoly, one that will impact on their automotive industry which relied on the cozy relationship between them to keep steel prices fixed and to keep car prices fixed. The fix was in and now it ain't.
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