[Adds statement from ArcelorMittal subsequent to meeting with Italian minister for economy.]

Italian authorities have started an investigation that might result in the cancellation of the tender for sale of steelmaker Ilva, which was won by ArcelorMittal, the country’s ministry of economic development said on Tuesday July 24.

Italian anti-corruption authority ANAC started an investigation earlier this month into the intended sale of Ilva.

“Following internal checks of the Ilva dossier, and [in light of] the opinion provided by ANAC, it was established that there are the conditions to start an administrative procedure aimed at the possible cancellation of the tender awarded in compliance with a decree of June 5, 2017,” the ministry said.

AM Investco, a consortium led by ArcelorMittal, agreed to purchase Ilva in late May last year, and the sale was approved by Italian authorities in early June 2017.

The investigative procedure will take as long as 30 days, the minister for economic development, Luigi Di Maio, said. “And it is necessary to ascertain facts as a result of crucial issues that have emerged,” he added.

ArcelorMittal declined to comment on the issue at the time of publication, because Di Maio and the company’s management were scheduled to meet in the afternoon of July 25.

After that meeting, ArcelorMittal issued the following statement: “We can confirm we met Minister Di Maio this afternoon to discuss our additional proposals, which reflect our commitment to the rehabilitation of Ilva, and in particular addressing its environmental and social challenges.

"We have participated in this tender in good faith and remain hopeful that we will be able to complete the transaction soon and start to implement the industrial, social and environmental plans aimed at repositioning Ilva as one of Europe's premier steel facilities,” it said.

Earlier this week, ArcelorMittal informed the Extraordinary Commissioners responsible for Ilva that it “accepted all the substantive requests for additional commitments with respect to the lease and purchase contract signed in June 2017.”

The global steelmaker originally expected to finalize its acquisition of Ilva by the end of the second quarter of this year, but in late June the Italian authorities postponed the takeover until September 15.

In early May this year, the European Commission conditionally approved the acquisition, dependent on an extensive package of divestments proposed by ArcelorMittal to preserve effective competition in the European steel market.