Cliffs CEO Says His US Steel Bid Is ‘Absolutely Gone’

(Bloomberg) — The combative chief executive officer of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. who lambasted United States Steel Corp.’s decision to sell itself to a Japanese steelmaker said his company’s offer is off the table.

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Lourenco Goncalves said that Cliffs’ $54-a-share cash-and-stock bid for US Steel is gone and won’t be a backup if Nippon Steel Corp.’s $55-a-share cash offer that was accepted by the iconic American steelmaker falls through.

“That transaction is no longer available, it’s no longer a backstop for their failure,” he said in a Thursday interview. “If they can’t close — I don’t know where they are at this point — that offer is gone, that offer no longer exists.”

A US national security review of Nippon Steel’s takeover stands in the way of the deal closing, and people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News last month that the review is unlikely to conclude until late this year and may extend into 2025. US Steel shares fell as much as 2.2% after the comments. Shares of Cliffs rose 1.5% in New York.

The comments come two days after Goncalves called US Steel’s agreement with Nippon a severe miscalculation and accused the Pittsburgh-based company’s board of intending to “break the backs” of the United Steelworkers union.

The union repeatedly expressed exclusive support for a Cliffs bid throughout US Steel’s strategic review to sell itself. USW President Dave McCall said Monday in a website post that Nippon failed to provide needed information to the union.

Goncalves said Cliffs is always looking for mergers and acquisitions, though there’s nothing imminent. He wouldn’t say if he’d make another offer for US Steel if the Nippon deal collapsed.

“The beauty about dealing with me is I don’t speak in code,” Goncalves said. “I’m a very blunt guy. That offer is absolutely gone. That deal is gone. It’s over.”

Read More: Cliffs CEO Lashes Out Over Losing US Steel Deal to Nippon

The comments also come after JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst Bill Peterson suspended his stock ratings on Cliffs and US Steel, citing the bank’s advisory work with Cliffs over its proposed US Steel offer. Goncalves said he doesn’t know why the firm now decided to suspend coverage.

“You need to ask JPMorgan,” he said. “JPMorgan has been one of our banks in the transaction, but the transaction is now gone.”

(Updates shares and adds details on union position.)

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