Nippon Steel confident of completing US Steel acquisition

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s top steelmaker Nippon Steel is confident of successfully completing its planned acquisition of U.S. Steel, despite opposition from labour union and certain U.S. senators, its president said on Friday.

The world’s fourth-largest steelmaker’s planned $14.9 billion deal has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the powerful United Steelworkers union, the main union at the third-largest U.S. steel company.

The White House has also expressed the need for “serious scrutiny” of the deal given the company’s role in U.S. steel production that the government regards as critical to national security.

“I believe we can successfully complete the planned acquisition,” Nippon Steel President Eiji Hashimoto told reporters on the sideline of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation’s new year party on Friday.

“The deal poses no harm to America… as we will make investment in line with the economic security strategies of the United States and other Western nations,” he said.

Hashimoto said the substantial investment from Nippon Steel and the use of the Japanese company’s advanced steel-making technology would be advantageous to the United States.

He also said the current labour agreement would be maintained, adding: “Taking good care of our employees and labour union is our speciality.”

Acknowledging the challenges, Hashimoto said that Nippon Steel had anticipated hurdles, including differing opinions, objections, and government’s scrutiny.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; editing by Barbara Lewis)