(05/21/2008)
While most of America's steel industry has shifted to China, Russian metals and mining company OAO Severstal is offering to buy West Virginia-based Esmark Incorporated for $17 per share in cash.

Esmark owns what is left of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, the industry once being the state's largest employer, replaced by WalMart.

Severstal also says it has the critical support of the United Steelworkers union, which is opposing an identical $670 million-dollar cash buyout offer from India's Essar Steel Holdings.

Both companies have agreed to assume $400 million dollars in debt as well, putting the value of either deal at 1.1 billion dollars.

Esmark says both companies are excellent global operations, and CEO Jim Bouchard will talk to Severstal about its plan.

Also competing for the WV company has been an outfit from Brazil.

Severstal already has a joint partnership with Wheeling-Pitt. It owns 50 percent of a coke plant in Follansbee, and it's a company the union works with daily.


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