X Stock Jumps As U.S. Steel Spurns Deal With Cleveland-Cliffs

U.S. Steel stock jumped 26% in early Monday stock market action on news that the steelmaker rejected $7.3-billion offer from Cleveland-Cliffs that would create the biggest American steel producer.


Cleveland-Cliffs went public with its buyout attempt on Sunday after U.S. Steel spurned the offer, citing inadequate disclosure. U.S. Steel didn’t shut the door on a transaction, while saying it has received alternative bids for “certain production assets” in addition to the buyout offer.

Cleveland-Cliffs offered $17.50 per share in cash, plus 1.023 shares of CLF stock, adding up to $35 per share. That represents a 43% premium to X stock’s closing price of 22.72 on Friday.

Regulatory Risk For CLF-X Deal

In a Monday note, KeyBanc analyst Philip Gibbs called the offer “more than fair,” but added that he expects “meaningful concessions” will be needed to secure regulatory approval. Among the hurdles: The X-CLF combination would create a monopoly in the U.S. iron ore market.

Gibbs also notes that both Cleveland-Cliffs and U.S. Steel are big suppliers to the auto industry.

However, Citi analyst Alexander Hacking called the offer “opportunistic.” He sees U.S. Steel’s long-term value closer to $46 a share. Hacking also expects government regulators to “take a long, hard look.”

For its part, Cleveland-Cliffs said it expects “timely” regulatory approval. The company also touted the United Steelworkers union’s endorsement of the deal, citing CLF’s track record following other acquisitions.

CLF Cash Would ‘De-Risk’ X Capex

Both CLF and X stock have been stock market laggards the past couple of years. But Cleveland-Cliffs has transformed its balance sheet, reducing debt even as it returns cash to shareholders via buybacks.

“Differently from several of our competitors, our capex needs — both now and in the next few years — are well-known and low,” CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a Q2 earnings release last month.

Now Cleveland-Cliffs hopes to put some of its cash into a transformational deal, which it says would “de-risk” U.S. Steel’s more onerous capital spending plans.

Together, Cleveland-Cliffs and U.S. Steel would ship 25.9 million tons of steel, overtaking Nucor, with 18.2 million tons. Still, CLF-X would be only the No. 10 steel producer globally.

X stock climbed 6.09 to 28.81, while CLF stock edged up 0.7% to 14.79 early Monday. Meanwhile, Nucor rose 1.8% and Steel Dynamics 0.7%, lifted by hopes that industry consolidation will lead to better supply discipline, a positive for steel prices.


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