U.S. Steel to Be Bought by Japanese

The $14.1 billion deal comes after months of uncertainty about the future of the century-old steel maker.

U.S. Steel agreed on Monday to sell itself to Nippon Steel for $14.1 billion, capping months of speculation about the fate of the American industrial heavyweight.

U.S. Steel, which was formed more than a century ago from a part of Andrew Carnegie’s industrial empire, has been weighing several takeover bids, including by a domestic rival, Cleveland-Cliffs. A little-known steel producer, Esmark, made an even larger bid — one that was light on details — before withdrawing days later.

In the end, U.S. Steel chose an offer by one of its biggest global competitors that was worth significantly more than Cleveland-Cliffs’ initial offer: Nippon Steel will pay $55 a share in cash, compared with the $35-a-share cash-and-stock bid that Cleveland-Cliffs made in August.

U.S. steel makers have struggled to compete against low-price, subsidized metals made by foreign competitors including China, which now accounts for more than half of global steel production.

The sale of U.S. Steel is a symbolic coda for a major player in the growth of the U.S. economy in the first half of the 20th century.

U.S. Steel currently runs nearly two dozen facilities around the United States, as well as a steel-making plant in Slovakia. The plants use massive machinery to transform molten steel into solid slabs, roll them into thinner sheets or bend them into tubes, and send them on to automakers, oil drillers and other industrial firms.

In the deal announcement on Monday, Nippon Steel said it would honor all agreements between U.S. Steel and the union, including collective bargaining pacts.

The United Steelworkers slammed the company’s decision in a statement Monday, saying it demonstrated “the same greedy, shortsighted attitude that has guided U.S. Steel for far too long.”

“We remained open throughout this process to working with U.S. Steel to keep this iconic American company domestically owned and operated, but instead, it chose to push aside the concerns of its dedicated work force and sell to a foreign-owned company,” it said.

The union said it would urge government regulators to scrutinize the transaction to determine whether it served the country’s national security interests.

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