Esmark becomes second US Steel suitor with $10bn offer

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Esmark, the privately held industrial group, said it had made an all-cash offer to buy US Steel for about $10bn including debt, becoming the second company in two days to announce a bid.

James Bouchard’s family-controlled group said on Monday that it had offered to buy US Steel for $35 per share, although it did not give any details on how it plans to finance a deal or the names of investment banks and law firms advising it on the bid.

The move by Esmark comes a day after US Steel rejected a $35-per-share cash-and-stock offer bid from Cleveland-Cliffs, the largest North American producer of flat-rolled steel.

“This is an exciting time as the entire American steel industry is restructuring, and with Esmark’s longstanding history of excellence, we are anxious to continue to grow and we’re well positioned to come in and operate [US Steel],” Bouchard said.

US Steel said on Sunday that it had hired advisers to help it consider “strategic alternatives” after receiving multiple unsolicited bids. It declined to comment further after Esmark announced its offer.

People close to the company stressed that US Steel was not putting itself up for sale and added that ultimately it might remain independent.

North American steel companies have undergone a wave of consolidation in recent years dominated by four players: Cleveland-Cliffs, US Steel, Nucor and Steel Dynamics. 

The industry has become much diminished in recent decades as manufacturing shifted offshore and supply became dominated by low-cost Chinese producers. 

However, steel tariffs introduced by Donald Trump along with infrastructure and reshoring initiatives promoted by the Biden administration have made US steelmakers more competitive of late.

US Steel is associated with the rise of American manufacturing and for contributing to many of the nation’s most iconic skyscrapers, including Chicago’s Willis Tower and the United Nations building in New York. Its share price has stagnated in recent years but on Monday rose nearly 40 per cent following news of the offers.

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