Nippon Steel touts tech it can bring to US Steel, vows to push ahead with $14.1 billion acquisition: ‘We have over 2,000 patents’

Apr 1, 2024 4:55 am | News

Nippon Steel Corp.’s new chief has pledged to press on with the $14.1 billion acquisition of United States Steel Corp., a deal that he says is vital to making the American company more competitive.

Nippon Steel isn’t considering alternative options and is focused on negotiating with the United Steelworkers union to win their support for the purchase, the Tokyo-based firm’s newly appointed president, Tadashi Imai, told a press gathering.

“There’s not a company in the US that can domestically produce the high-end, electrical steel sheets for automobiles which we produce at our steel mills in Japan,” Imai said, in an interview conducted last week and available for release on Monday, when he formally took over the top job.

That technology will be available to U.S. Steel after the acquisition. “We have over 2,000 patents in North America alone — much more than the other American steelmakers,” he said. “There’s a lot we can do to strengthen U.S. Steel.”

Imai’s remarks come at a delicate time for the deal, whose prospects have been clouded by President Joe Biden’s insistence that U.S. Steel should be “domestically owned and operated.” Biden has aligned himself with the union ahead of the presidential election in the fall, but risks upsetting relations with one of America’s most stalwart allies in the process.

Biden will meet with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a summit in Washington on April 10. U.S. Steel’s shareholders will gather two days after that to discuss the Japanese bid.

Asked whether his company would consider changing the terms of the deal, perhaps by offering to take a lesser stake, Imai said it would be a decision for the American firm and isn’t one for Nippon Steel to propose.

The previous president, Eiji Hashimoto, who launched the acquisition, is now chairman of Nippon Steel.

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