US Steel shareholders approve Nippon buyout despite political opposition

U.S. Steel shareholders approved a $14.9 billion acquisition by Japan’s Nippon Steel Friday, despite opposition from the Biden administration, steelworkers and congressional lawmakers.

“#USSteel is pleased to report that, based on the preliminary vote count, 98 % of stockholders voted to approve our proposed merger with Nippon Steel,” U.S. Steel said in a post to social platform X Friday.

The proposed deal, announced in December, has faced pushback from lawmakers in both parties, who argue the deal could threaten national security, U.S. industrial capacity and the livelihoods of steel workers.

“As I’ve always said, steel is about security — both our national security and the economic security of workers and steel communities in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a statement following the announcement. “This conversation should be about the steelworkers who power U.S. Steel.”

Republican Sens. J.D. Vance (Ohio), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), called for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to block the sale Friday.

“[CFIUS] can and should block the acquisition of U.S. Steel by NSC, a company whose allegiances clearly lie with a foreign state and whose record in the United States is deeply flawed,” the senators wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

President Biden also criticized the proposed deal last month.

“It is important that we maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steel workers,” he said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “I told our steel workers I have their backs, and I meant it. U.S. Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated.”

David McCall, United Steelworkers (USW) union international president, expressed concerns about the proposed deal and its potential impact on steel workers’ livelihoods and national security, in a February statement.

“Steel is vital to our national security and critical infrastructure, and USW members are proud to manufacture some of the highest quality products in the world,” McCall wrote at the time. “Unfortunately, the proposed sale agreement between Nippon Steel and U.S. Steel puts our members’ and our nations’ interests in jeopardy,”

U.S. Steel maintained friday that the “transaction truly represents the best path forward for all of U.S. Steel’s stakeholders” and that it will make “U.S. Steel and the domestic steel industry stronger and more competitive,” in a statement announcing the vote results.

The vote comes a day after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s State visit, in which he addressed a joint meeting of Congress and participated in talks with President Biden.

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