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ArcelorMittal seeking legal protection in Ilva deal

ArcelorMittal wants to change the terms of acquiring Italy's Ilva International SpA in a bid to protect it from legal challenges in the country, Reuters reported Dec. 23.

The ArcelorMittal-led consortium agreed to buy the Italian steelmaker in a €1.8 billion deal in June but the transaction has been held up due to legal challenges and an EU anti-trust investigation.

The Ilva commissioners wrote in a Dec. 21 letter to the country's industry ministry to inform that ArcelorMittal has asked for "modifications and additions" to the contract, allowing for the deal to be suspended or dissolved if the lawsuits against the transaction in a court in southern Italy are successful.

"We are assessing, with our consultants, whether these requests are compatible with the rules in force," the letter said, according to Reuters.

In November, EU antitrust regulators launched a probe into the proposed acquisition on concerns that it would reduce competition for some steel products and lead to higher prices.

Earlier in December, Puglia and Taranto regions filed an appeal in court against the government's approval for the buyers' environmental plan as part of the deal.

On Dec. 22, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni wrote to the governor of Puglia and mayor of Taranto, urging them to drop the lawsuits.

Recently, Italy's state holding company CDP and Intesa Sanpaolo agreed to join the ArcelorMittal-led group after Marcegaglia SpA backed out of the transaction.

Two sources told Reuters that ArcelorMittal struck a preliminary agreement to sell its Piombino steel mill in Italy to steelmaker Arvedi, in a bid to secure clearance from EU authorities for the Ilva takeover.

Concerns from EU authorities over market concentration in the galvanized steel sector prompted ArcelorMittal to dispose of Piombino, the sources added, without giving further details.

ArcelorMittal and Arvedi declined to comment, according to Reuters.