Judge Approves Sale Of LTV Steel

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - A federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale Thursday of LTV Steel to an investment firm that plans to resurrect the company's steel mills.

On Wednesday, LTV Corp. agreed to sell its steelmaking operations to the investment firm of W.L. Ross and Co. The deal allows steelmaking at LTV mills to resume.

Ross is a New York-based firm specializing in restoring bankrupt or financially struggling businesses.

LTV spokesman Mark Tomasch said that Ross agreed to pay $125 million in cash and assume approximately $200 million in environmental and other liabilities.

The acquisition includes LTV mills in Cleveland and Warren, Ohio; East Chicago, Ind.; and Hennepin, Ill.

The announcement follows a private bid process for Cleveland-based LTV, which asked for bankruptcy protection from creditors on Dec. 29, 2000.

LTV's steel operations are shut down, but have been maintained to make a restart easier. A restart could mean jobs for approximately 2,000 LTV workers in Cleveland and 3,000 elsewhere.

LTV supplied flat-rolled steel to the automotive, electrical equipment and appliance industries.

Ross said that Rodney Mott will be president and chief executive officer of the new company. Mott has previous management experience at Nucor Steel and U.S. Steel.

Mott said that Ross has received expressions of support from potential customers and suppliers.

"We are here for the long haul,

" Mott said after hearing judge William Bodoh's decision. "We are going to be successful, and we are counting on all the employees to support us."

"

We'll support him 100 percent if he's got jobs for us," local steelworker George Gongaware said. "We want to do the work."

The mills bought by Ross will soon get a new name, but

the bankruptcy process will continue. With the sale, however, LTV for all intent and purposes has been eradicated from northeast Ohio.

Mott said that the he'd like the new company to begin making steel in the next month or two.

Tomasch said that six bidders were involved in the private bidding process on Wednesday, and two withdrew by Wednesday afternoon. He said that they were unable to beat the Ross bid.

LTV's Cleveland mill attracted the interest of newly formed Cleveland Steel Inc., whose management team includes LTV employees with experience managing steelmaking furnaces at the plant.

The Cleveland Steel team also includes Thomas Tyrrell, former chief executive of Republic Technologies International, which makes steel bars.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)