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Belgium to announce stance on Mittal offer Monday

Written by: Staff
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BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) The Belgian government will announce its position on Mittal Steel's unsolicited 20 billion euro (.5 billion) bid for Arcelor on Monday, the prime minister's spokesman said on Thursday.

''The federal government will give its answer on Monday,'' said Didier Seeuws, spokesman for Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, declining to elaborate further.

The Belgian federal state does not own a stake in Luxembourg-based Arcelor but its political support could prove vital for Mittal Chairman and owner Lakshmi Mittal.

The Indian-born billionaire's attempt to buy Arcelor has triggered criticism from the governments of Luxembourg, France and Spain, which said they were concerned about job losses.

According to local press reports, investment bank Lazard, which was mandated by the Belgian government to examine Mittal's bid for Arcelor, has taken a positive position on the merger plan.

A report in business daily L'Echo said Mittal Steel made commitments in terms of jobs and investments above those of Arcelor.

Belgium's southern French-Speaking region of Wallonia, which owns 2.3 percent of Arcelor's capital, will decide independently whether to tender its shares to the offer.

Mittal said it expected bourse regulators to clear the offer next week, paving the way for the bid to be launched a few days after the regulatory clearance.

REUTERS CS SSC1325

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