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Dolle: ''large majority'' of investors oppose Mittal

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Mar 23 (Reuters) Guy Dolle, chairman of steel group Arcelor which is trying to fend off an unsolicited share-and-cash-bid by larger rival Mittal Steel, said a large majority of shareholders opposed the bid.

''The investors find our strategic plan very credible and have confidence in management to put it in place,'' Dolle told French weekly Journal des Finances in an interview published on Thursday.

''Our impression is that, under the current terms of the offer, the large majority (of shareholders) is not ready to exchange their shares.'' Mittal plans to offer four new shares plus 35.25 euros for every five Arcelor shares.

This bid, which still needs regulatory approval, values Arcelor at 19.9 billion euros (.01 billion) or at 31.09 euros per share while the Luxembourg-based firm trades at 31.50 euros.

''The bid is a share exchange offer and Mittal's current offer does not reflect the real value of Arcelor,'' Dolle said, adding there were no reasons so far to begin talks with Mittal.

He said Arcelor was studying several transactions in the steel sector but would only engage in deals that would boost shareholder value. The best defence against Mittal's bid was to show that Arcelor's strategy was better, he said.

Dolle reiterated that the quality of Mittal Steel's assets was ''average to mediocre'' and that the Dutch-registered group needed Arcelor's cash for the ''massive investments'' to improve its business.

REUTERS SD PM1909

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