PHILADELPHIA Bethlehem Steel officials to talk about sale to ISG

The Bethlehem CEO said an offer from Cleveland company provides the best value for his company.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Bethlehem Steel directors will convene a weekend meeting to discuss whether to approve the company's $1.5 billion sale to International Steel Group after management concluded that offer was the best course to take.
Bethlehem leaders and their advisers reviewed the proposal from Cleveland-based ISG for about a month before recommending the sale to the board Wednesday. Bethlehem Steel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2001.
Best value
Robert S. Miller, Bethlehem's chairman and chief executive, said ISG's offer provided the best value achievable and will also allow Bethlehem's "well-maintained facilities to remain in operation, thereby preserving thousands of jobs."
If completed, the sale would make ISG one of the nation's largest integrated steel makers.
Wilbur L. Ross, who specializes in buying distressed businesses and launched ISG by buying bankrupt LTV's assets in March, said ISG's board had approved the deal. He said the companies had negotiated changes and the final value was still being calculated.
The Bethlehem Steel board will meet Saturday and is expected to agree with the sale, Miller said. Approval by U.S. Bankruptcy court and government regulators is also required.
Miller said there had been changes in some details, though the $1.5 billion total was "still in the ballpark."
Ross wouldn't comment on how many jobs are likely to be cut, but said ISG expects to spend more than $100 million on early retirement incentives to "effect the new manning levels in as humane a way as possible."

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