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December 19, 2009

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CSN in US$5.5b offer for Cimpor

BRAZILIAN steel maker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional yesterday launched a 3.8-billion-euro (US$5.5 billion) takeover bid for Portugal's largest cement company, Cimpor.

Rio de Janeiro-based CSN is offering 5.75 euros a share for Cimpor's 672 million shares, representing a 5-percent premium on Thursday's closing price.

Cimpor shares shot up 14 percent to 6.24 euros - a three-year high - as investors priced in the possibility that the offer may be revised higher.

CSN said in its statement that the bid was part of its effort to diversify its business and move into new markets.

"Acquiring control of Cimpor will provide access to already consolidated markets and to new markets which have a high growth potential," it said.

Cimpor has business in China, Brazil, Spain, Egypt, South Africa and Turkey.

CSN has in recent years met setbacks in its efforts to expand abroad.

In 2001, the Brazilian company bought the former Heartland Steel mill in Terre Haute, Indiana, but two years ago lost a bidding war for Britain's Corus Group Plc and also failed to acquire United States-based steel maker Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp.

Cimpor's biggest shareholder is Portuguese construction company Teixeira Duarte, with almost 23 percent. French cement maker Lafarge holds just more than 17 percent, and Portuguese businessman Manuel Fino owns close to 11 percent.

Portuguese banks Caixa Geral de Depositos and Banco Comercial Portugues each have about 10 percent.

CSN said it wants at least 50 percent of Cimpor stock plus one share.

CSN produces 5.6 million tons of steel a year and employs around 16,000 people.


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