ArcelorMittal agrees to more environmental, social commitments to seal Ilva deal

ArcelorMittal has presented Italian authorities with a list of the additional commitments it has accepted for the lease and purchase agreement for it to acquire steelmaker Ilva.

The steelmaker and the Italian ministry of economic development made a joint statement on the matter after a meeting held on Monday July 30.

“The enhanced commitments we presented today really do represent ArcelorMittal’s best foot forward for the turnaround of the Ilva business, and ensuring that Ilva has a sustainable future as Italy’s leading steel producer,” the chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Europe Flat Steel Products, Geert Van Poelvoorde, said.

The steelmaker had agreed a set of commitments with the Extraordinary Commissioners for Ilva but this had to be revised after a request was made by Italy’s ministry of economic development on July 19.

ArcelorMittal accepted all the counter-proposals, and these were submitted to the ministry on July 23.

“The critical element is implementation. The sooner we can begin implementing these initiatives, the sooner we will deliver the improvements that are required by the Ilva business and its stakeholders,” Van Poelvoorde said.

“We remain optimistic about progressing to the final stages of the transaction, including the successful conclusion to negotiations with Ilva’s [trade] unions, and to completing the acquisition as soon as possible,” he added.

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.

“The additional commitments go above and beyond the terms of the group’s 2017 contract with the Italian government for the lease and purchase contract of Ilva,” ArcelorMittal said.

“These additional commitments, which represent ArcelorMittal’s best and final commitments in the key areas of intervention…, will be formalised by signing a 10-page addendum to the contract following acceptance by ArcelorMittal of all the substantial parts of the counter-proposals of the Extraordinary Commissioners,” it added.

AM Investco, the buying 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.

Among the additional commitments, ArcelorMittal will ensure that Ilva’s environmental performance fully complies with European and Italian environmental law, and that it is among the best operating integrated steel plants in Europe through the implementation of environmental protection measures.

It also will significantly reduce Ilva’s emissions and accelerate its investment in, and subsequent launch of, a €10 million ($11.65 million) research and development center in Taranto, Italy. This will be dedicated to identifying new production techniques with reduced effects on the environment.

ArcelorMittal “favors [a] positive conclusion to the [trade] union consultation procedure, taking into account the sustainability of the industrial turnaround plan for Ilva.” It will also promote the engagement of local suppliers and will implement sustainable economic strategies and policies in its production processes, it said.

It will also support local education, healthcare and entrepreneurs.

Separately, however, Italian anti-corruption authorities earlier this month started an investigation that might result in cancellation of the tender for Ilva’s sale.