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Written by: Staff
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AMSTERDAM, May 12 (Reuters) Mittal Steel, the world's largest steelmaker, said on Friday it has obtained U.S.

antitrust clearance for its bid to acquire rival Arcelor.

Mittal said in a statement that the required waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with respect to its bid for Arcelor expired on May 11.

Mittal also reported on Friday a 17-percent rise in first-quarter operating income to $1.017 billion on Friday from the last quarter of 2005 on sales of $8.430 billion.

The steelmaker proposed earlier this week to sweeten its 20 billion euros ($25.44 billion) bid for Arcelor, provided Arcelor's board ended its resistance to a takeover and recommends a revised bid.

''The (U.S.) Department of Justice has not issued a request for additional information and documentary material ... in connection with the transaction,'' Mittal said in a statement.

The U.S. justice department, however, continued to investigate an area of overlap between the two companies' operations in North America.

Mittal said its intention to sell Arcelor's recently acquired Canadian unit Dofasco to ThyssenKrupp would satisfy possible concerns by the department.

Mittal wants to sell Dofasco partly to finance the Arcelor acquisition, but Arcelor has transferred Dofasco's ownership to a special Dutch foundation to hinder Mittal's move.

''If Mittal Steel is unable to sell Dofasco to ThyssenKrupp due to Arcelor's transfer of its Dofasco shares to the S3 Stichting, Mittal may instead resolve any competitive concern by selling an alternative asset,'' the statement said.

REUTERS CS RK1325

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