ROME, Feb 11 (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal and Brazil's Cia Siderugica Nacional are among nine companies interested in Italy's troubled Ilva steel plant that were admitted to the second phase of the bidding process, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The selection of the companies and consortia considered to be serious contenders for Ilva, Europe's biggest steel plant, will continue on Friday, the sources said.
On Wednesday Ilva had said it had received a total of 29 expressions of interest without naming any of the parties.
The companies that make it to the second phase of the bidding process will be allowed to carry out a due diligence audit. After that, they can make a binding offer.
America's ERP Compliant Fuels, Italy's state holding company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Italian companies Marcegaglia, Eusider, and Amenduni, Switzerland's Trasteel and Germany's Arvedi also were admitted to the second phase, the sources said.
The government took over administration of the loss-making Ilva business last year to try to save some 16,000 jobs and clean up its polluting factories in the southern Italian city of Taranto.
With the EU opening an investigation into possible illegal state aid at steel producer, Rome has put the company up for sale, hoping to wrap up a deal by June 30.
The European Commission said last month an investigation into the state's dealings with Ilva would focus on whether measures allowing it to finance a modernisaton of the plant had given it an unfair advantage.
Ilva was put under court administration in 2013 after magistrates seized 8.1 billion euros ($9.21 billion) of assets belonging to the owners, the Riva family, amid allegations that toxic emissions were causing abnormally high rates of cancer. ($1 = 0.8797 euros) (Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)