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Arcelor, Nippon Steel join forces to bid for insolvent Essar

[TOKYO] The world's biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, and Japan's top mill will form a partnership to bid for Essar Steel India, the insolvent producer that could fetch at least US$6 billion.

ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal said in a statement they have joined the bidding for Essar, which is on the block after entering an Indian government-mandated process designed to clean-up companies that can't repay their debts.

The joint acquisition by the companies depends on their plan being selected and accepted by Indian courts. Essar is the largest distressed steelmaker being sold under the program, and is also the subject of a bidĀ from Russia's state-controlled VTB Group.

Arcelor and Nippon Steel have operated joint ventures in the US going back to 1987, and partnered on another US purchase in 2014. In the statement, Lakshmi Mittal, Arcelor's chief executive officer, promised a "rapid turn-around in Essar's performance," citingĀ "a rich history of positive collaboration" with Nippon Steel.

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Advisers evaluating offers for Essar had recommended last month that both Arcelor and VTB should be disqualified after querying whether they met the bidding criteria.