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Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Mar 3 (Reuters) Mittal Steel Co. NV sought to ease any job and management issues that its planned $23 billion takeover of Luxembourg-based Arcelor could raise in a document published by a French newspaper on Thursday.

''Both companies are complementary, therefore generating almost no 'redundancy' in the combined footprint,'' Mittal Steel said in a six-page confidential document reproduced on the Web site of La Tribune (www.latribune.fr).

''There will be almost no negative impact beyond what the management of Arcelor has already announced in the Apollo Plan and other existing plans.'' Arcelor has so far consistently rebuffed Mittal Steel's overtures and its stance has won the support of European governments, which fear a takeover by Mittal could mean job cuts.

Lakshmi Mittal, the world's third-richest man and founder the steel group, has been trying recently to persuade leading European governments to support his bid for Arcelor, but the French and Spanish governments expressed doubts about the industrial plan he put forward earlier this week.

The Luxembourg government, which has a stake of around 4 per cent in Arcelor, also said on Thursday it asked for more detail on the proposed merger.

Mittal said the document was not intended to be a full-fledged industrial plan.

''(It) does not purport to fully reflect all industrial, social and economic aspects of the proposed transaction,'' the company said in a statement.

''Mittal Steel has offered to meet with representatives of the various governments involved to discuss those aspects in more detail.'' The company said it was surprised by the leak and it would take steps to prevent it happening again.

In its leaked document, Mittal Steel also said the board of directors of a merged entity would have a majority of independent directors and reiterated it would consider moving its headquarters to Luxembourg.

''Both Mittal Steel and Arcelor adhere to the most stringent standards of European and U.S. corporate governance,'' it said.

Mittal and his family own 88 percent of Mittal Steel.

Arcelor Chief Executive Guy Dolle had warned shareholders the Mittal family would own 64 percent of the voting rights in a combined company and have ''absolute power to name board members.'' The group also reiterated a target for annual synergies of around $1 billion by 2009 for the merged entity, $600 million of which from purchasing savings alone.

Mittal and Arcelor were ''ideal merger partners'' that complement each other's strengths and which would create ''a true European-based global champion,'' according to the documents.

''The combined group will be the first global player to have a production capacity of 150-200 million tonnes by 2015 or sooner,'' Mittal Steel said.

Arcelor shares closed 2.6 percent higher at 32.05 euros after a report in the Financial Times that Arcelor's managers would be prepared to talk to executives at Mittal, citing comments made by Dolle.

Arcelor denied the report, saying it had not changed its views on the unsolicited takeover bid.

REUTERS DH RAI0510

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