U.S. Steel pledges to keep Slovak operations at least for 5 years
U.S. Steel Corp. will keep its steel mill in Slovakia operating for at least five years under a deal with that nation's government announced on Tuesday.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who visited Pittsburgh on Sunday and Monday to discuss the deal with U.S. Steel CEO John Surma, signed the agreement at U.S. Steel's plant in Kosice and thanked the company for a “demanding yet fair negotiating process.”
“I have positively praised U.S. Steel for committing to maintaining employment level(s), that they will not use mass layoffs as a tool, and I'm also very grateful that U.S. Steel committed to continue their cooperation with other enterprises in Slovakia,” Fico said through an interpreter during a news conference at the plant.
The largest steel producer in the United States won't sell its Slovak unit, one of the largest employers in the country, in exchange for environmental and energy-related concessions, Fico said.
“This moment is extremely important for the whole country,” he said. “The government wants U.S. Steel to continue operations, and it understands that steelmaking has to have a favorable environment here.”
Company representatives in Pittsburgh did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Speaking at the news conference, U.S. Steel Kosice President David Rintoul called the agreement a victory for the company, Slovakia and the plant's 11,000 workers.
“The steel market is very competitive in the EU (European Union), and this plant has done very well and survived through a difficult time,” Rintoul said. “This is a good plant, at a good location, with great people.”
The company said in November it was considering selling the mill after it received unspecified offers. Concern that the sale would lead to job losses at a time when unemployment hovers close to a nine-year high prompted Fico to offer concessions to avert the exit.
U.S. Steel disclosed last month that it would have to pay an estimated $400 million to upgrade environmental controls at the plant during the next three years.
The plant is the steelmaker's last operation in Europe, where slowing demand is weighing on prices and shipments. Last year, it sold its mill in Serbia for $1 to that country's government.
The Serbian plant accounted for most of the $200 million loss on European operations U.S. Steel recorded in 2011. After selling that plant, the company's European operations recorded operating income of $34 million in 2012.
U.S. Steel pledged to maintain employment at the Slovak unit, while the government will change legislation allowing the company to draw about $18 million a year in subsidies for using renewable energy sources, Fico said. The company also will be granted unspecified environmental concessions.
Fico said the deal does not provide the company with tax breaks or direct subsidies.
U.S. Steel bought its Slovak operations in 2000 for $475 million. The plant, with an annual capacity of 5 million tons, has two coke batteries, three blast furnaces and units that produce sheet, tin-mill products and pipes.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Police: 4 officers injured in Colorado Springs shooting
- Man dies in ATV crash in Beaver County
- Pitt notebook: Boyd undecided about leaving early for NFL
- In Uganda, Pope Francis pays tribute to nation’s martyrs
- Suicide bomber targets crowd of Shiites in Nigeria
- Absenteeism high on first day back after Peters Township teacher strike
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension