Shaky US Steel Sale Wins Backing of Shareholders

Opponents of Nippon deal include presidential candidates, unions
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2024 5:05 PM CDT
US Steel Shareholders Approve Sale to Nippon
US Steel's Mon Valley Works Clairton Plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania, is shown on Feb. 26.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

The deal's opponents include union leaders and the two major candidates for president in the November election, but US Steel's shareholders nevertheless voted overwhelmingly Friday to sell to Nippon Steel for a package worth $14.1 billion. If the sale goes through, investors would receive $55 in cash for each share of US Steel, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's more than twice the stock price in August when US Steel revealed it was on the market. But it's not at all clear that the sale, which faces federal regulatory review, will happen.

US Steel reported that 98% of the shares involved in the vote were cast in favor of the deal in a closed-door meeting. The voters represented 71% of company shares, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. CEO David Burritt said the decision by the shareholders is "a clear endorsement that they recognize the compelling rationale for our transaction." Nippon's assurances have failed to sell unions on the deal, though, and the political opposition has spread.

  • Pennsylvania's governor: Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said Friday he's talked with executives of both companies but did not provide details. "My job is to make sure steelworker jobs are protected," he said. "I couldn't give a damn about the shareholders."

  • President Biden: He and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida avoided addressing the deal, which Biden opposes, head-on when they met at the White House this week. Biden said he stands by the nations' alliance and "I stand by my commitment to American workers."
  • Donald Trump: The apparent Republican presidential nominee has promised to prevent the sale if elected.
  • The reasons: Opponents have cited the potentially damaging effects for unionized workers, supply chains, and US national security, per the AP. Biden has said American ownership is vital, per CNN. "If you do reach a true national security emergency, we have substantially less leverage over a Japanese firm than an American firm," Republican Sen. JD Vance said this week.
(More US Steel stories.)

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