Nippon Steel says Usiminas split possible but negotiations not started
By Alberto Alerigi
SAO PAULO, July 5 (Reuters) - A split-up of Brazilian steelmaker Usiminas between controlling shareholders remains an option for resolving a two-year boardroom dispute, but negotiations have not yet started, the top executive in Brazil for one of the parties said on Tuesday.
Yoichi Furuta, chief executive for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal in Brazil, told reporters the Japanese company remains committed to Brazil and Usiminas.
Furuta's comments were the first to be made publicly by a Nippon Steel executive in Brazil about the dispute with fellow controlling shareholder Ternium, which has been ongoing since 2014.
Speaking in Sao Paulo, Furuta said Nippon Steel opposes the recent appointment of Sergio Leite as CEO of Usiminas because it broke a shareholder pact requiring consensus between controlling parties. Nippon Steel has taken the issue to court.
In a split-up, Furuta said he believed it would make most sense for Nippon Steel to take Usiminas' mill in Ipatinga, while Ternium could get the Cubatao mill in the neighboring state of Sao Paulo.
Usiminas has already stopped steel production at its Cubatao mill, slowed work at its mines and laid off thousands of employees as it suffers through Brazil's worst recession in decades.
Furuta said Usiminas was looking at possibly laying off more workers.
(Reporting by Alberto Alerigi; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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