From: Reuters
Published December 17, 2007 11:29 AM

ArcelorMittal sale of Sparrows Point falls through

NEW YORK/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal <ISPA.AS> <MT.N> has ended a $1.35 billion deal to sell its Sparrows Point steel plant to E2 Acquisition Corp because E2 had been unable to secure financing, the world's largest steelmaker said on Monday.

There was no immediate comment from E2, a joint venture between Esmark Inc <ESMK.O> and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp, which Esmark acquired this year.

ArcelorMittal said it terminated the agreement to sell the plant near Baltimore on the direction of a U.S. court-appointed trustee "due to E2's inability to secure financing."

ArcelorMittal had been ordered by U.S. antitrust authorities to sell the plant as a condition of approval of Mittal Steel's takeover of Arcelor SA.

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"The trustee intends to retain an investment bank to assist him in the sale process. No specific schedule has been established but the trustee's goal is to obtain a transaction with the earliest possible closing date," it said.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice had approved the sale of the Sparrows Point steel mill for roughly $1.35 billion.

The deal, first announced in August, was supposed to close at the end of November. ArcelorMittal had agreed late last month to extend the closing date to December 11, it said.

Brazilian mining giant Vale <VALE5.SA> <RIO.N>, formerly known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, or CVRD, was among several companies expressing interest in Sparrows Point when ArcelorMittal put it up for sale earlier this year.

In August Vale said it was committed to investing up to $270 million for a minority stake in Sparrows Point if the sale to E2 was approved.

Sparrows Point is a former Bethlehem Steel plant with an annual production capacity of 3.9 million tons of raw steel. It makes hot- and cold-rolled and galvanized steel, tin mill products and finished steel.

ArcelorMittal shares traded in Paris fell 2.46 percent to 48.42 euros. On the New York Stock Exchange, the steelmaker's shares were down $1.68, or 2.4 percent at $69.60 in morning trading.

(Reporting by Steve James, Jonathan Keehner, Mark McSherry and Michael Shields; Editing by Brian Moss)

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