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YOUNGSTOWN Buyer of LTV Steel plans to hire 2,000 employees



Published: Sat, April 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- The company that has acquired LTV Steel plants is hiring and intends to have 2,000 employees on the job within weeks.

International Steel Group, a new company formed by a New York investment group, said Friday that it has completed its acquisition of the steel-making and finishing operations of LTV.

International Steel intends to bring back 2,000 of the 7,500 LTV Steel employees who have been jobless since it shut down operations in December.

Wilbur Ross, the turnaround specialist who formed International Steel, said plants will be started as soon as possible.

"It will be weeks, not months," he said.

Exactly how long it will take will depend on what happens to the equipment when it is restarted, he said.

Orders have been booked to begin deliveries next month.

International Steel acquired steel mills in Cleveland and Indiana, a finishing mill in Illinois and coke plant in Warren.

Improved market: Although LTV Steel was out of customers when it idled the plants, Ross said International Steel has customers lined up because of the steel market's renewed strength.

Mark Tomasch, a company spokesman, said restarting of the coke plant in Warren, which used to employ 200, would be timed with the return of the blast furnaces at the steel mills. Coke is a coal-based fuel that is used in blast furnaces.

International Steel, which has said it intends to hire former LTV workers under a union contract, is continuing to bargain with the United Steelworkers of America.

David McCall, district director for the union, said the union and company have agreed to a letter of understanding that provides wages and benefits while a contract is completed.

"That agreement will provide employees with the opportunity to earn steel industry wages and benefits," he said.

Managers: Much of International Steel's management has come from Nucor, a large North Carolina minimill that has been profitable during the steel industry's recent slump. Much of the workers' pay is tied to incentives, and work rules are more flexible than those of large steel producers.

Rodney Mott, International Steel president and chief executive, said the new union contract would "restructure and redefine" many jobs to achieve the highest possible efficiency and safety.

International Steel also announced that it has received an additional $95 million from investors. Ross said the money will be used for plant improvements, working capital and possible future expansion. It also has agreements that provide the ability to borrow $200 million for working capital.

Ross put up $80 million in cash to buy most of LTV steel plants. It did not pick up the health care and pension liabilities of its retirees.




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