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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kremlin Shil Seeks to Control World Steel Market

As the New York Times reports, Kremlin shil Aleksei Mordashov's bid to control the worldwide steel industry by merging his steel firm Severstal, dominated by the Kremlin like most significant Russian commercial enterprises, with Luxumborg's Arcelor (thus controlling 20% of the world's automotive steel) has hit a roadblock thrown up by major American investment banker Goldman Sachs. The Times reports:

Goldman Sachs is circulating a letter to Arcelor shareholders, hoping to get support for an emergency general meeting that would call for the Severstal deal to be put to a vote, according to Mittal executives.

Twenty percent of shareholders need to call for an emergency general meeting for it to be held. At issue is the way that investors can weigh in on the Severstal deal. As it is structured now, the deal will go through, unless more than 50 percent of outstanding shareholders vote to prevent it. That situation is unlikely because it is difficult to get that percentage of shareholders to vote on any company issue.

Critics are calling for a more traditional voting structure — asking two-thirds of shareholders present at a general meeting to approve the deal before it can go through, for example. Under local shareholder rights law, Arcelor does not have to put the Severstal deal to a shareholder vote. But Arcelor management is under pressure to prove that it is showing exemplary corporate governance, after criticizing Mittal's corporate governance and refusing to consider the company's offer.

Investors could try to use an emergency general meeting to demand that the company change the way the deal is approved. Mittal is, naturally, supportive of any efforts to strike down the Severstal deal.

"Many Arcelor shareholders had serious reservations about this deal," a Mittal spokesman said in a prepared statement. Separately, Severstal's chief executive, Mr. Mordashov, wants to raise his stake in Arcelor to 45 percent, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Now we see the tentacles of the Neo-Soviet Union grasping out for every scrap of influence it can, by whatever means possible, as the world slowly realizes that is going on in Russia. The same exact thing happened as Stalin consolidated his power. The difference, however, is that now Russia is a bankrupt shell of an entity devastated by the arms race Stalin initiated, and when it falls this time it will fall much harder.

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