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LTV STEEL Angelo: N.Y. firm has put in a bid for coke plant



Published: Fri, February 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



One bidder wants the coke plants and three LTV steel mills, city official says.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

WARREN -- Mayor Hank Angelo said a New York turnaround specialist is trying to take over the Warren coke plant as part of its bid to acquire part of LTV Steel.

WL Ross & amp; Co., a New York investment banking firm, has bid for the coke plant, LTV's steel mills in Cleveland and Indiana Harbor, Ind., and steel finishing plant in Hennepin, Ill., the mayor said. The company is led by Wilbur Ross, who specializes in advising companies that are restructuring.

The coke plant and its 200 jobs have barely survived the past several weeks. LTV has been ready to shut it down twice.

It was saved the latest time by a group of unidentified local investors who said they will pay to keep the plant idling as long as a bidder they are working with remains in contention. The unidentified bidder wants to use coke from the Warren plant to supply the steel mill in Cleveland.

Once the coke plant's furnaces are shut down, the ovens soon suffer severe damage.

Supporting bid: Angelo said he is supporting the Ross bid because another Cleveland-based bidder is not interested in the Warren plant.

LTV hasn't commented on the number of bidders, but The Plain Dealer named two bidders today, Ross and Cleveland Steel.

The newspaper said Cleveland Steel wants portions of LTV's Cleveland assets. It has financial backing from investors, including local developer Bart Wolstein; two companies that had considered making their own bids, Cleveland-Cliffs and Park Corp.; LTV employees from the Cleveland mill; and Thomas N. Tyrrell, former chief executive of Republic Technologies International Inc. in Fairlawn.

Confidentiality agreements have kept bidders from disclosing details.

LTV is to go over the bids with bidders Wednesday and then come to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown on Thursday to seek approval for its decision. LTV, which stopped production at its LTV Steel plants but is continuing operations at LTV Copperweld, is liquidating the company.

Warren City Council is to vote Wednesday on resolutions supporting the bid by Ross.

Council also is to vote on a resolution maintaining steel retirees' benefits. Both resolutions are co-sponsored by a majority of council.

Steel workers and retirees, elected officials and social service agency directors gathered at a city council meeting Thursday that served as a warm-up for local participation in next week's Stand Up for Steel rally in Washington.

Plans for rally: At least seven buses will depart for Washington from the main gate of WCI Steel at 4 a.m. Thursday and return about midnight. The bus trip is being paid for by WCI, the United Steelworkers of America and others. The union hopes to have tens of thousands at the Washington rally in support of 40-percent tariffs on imported steel to protect the American steel industry and in support of using that tariff money to maintain health and life insurance coverage for steel retirees, said Mike Rubicz, Local 1375 president.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 LTV retirees in Mahoning and Trumbull counties stand to lose health insurance in the next few months, and 170 coke plant workers are to lose it next Thursday, he said.




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