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Belgian, German Steel Cos. May Ally

June 9, 1998

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The Belgian steelmaker Cockerill Sambre SA is talking about an alliance with Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG, a spokesman for the Belgian company said Tuesday.

Newspapers in Germany and Belgium had reported Thyssen Krupp was mulling a takeover bid for Cockerill, whose main shareholder is the government of Belgium’s southern Wallonia region.

Cockerill spokesman Christophe Weerts confirmed talks had taken place on a possible alliance with Thyssen Krupp, Europe’s largest steel producer. But he declined to say whether Cockerill would accept a takeover bid.

Weerts said Cockerill, which has been seeking a partner for years, had also held alliance talks with other steelmakers.

Other companies that have been considered potential partners of Cockerill are Arbed SA of Luxembourg, Usinor SA of France, Hoogovens NV of the Netherlands and British Steel PLC.

Cockerill shares rose 10.6 percent in trading on the Brussels stock exchange Tuesday.

A spokesman for Thyssen Krupp was reported in the Brussels financial daily L’Echo saying the company is considering making a takeover offer for the Belgian steelmaker within the next few weeks.

``It is up to Thyssen to present its conclusions and make its proposal to the Walloon government,″ Weerts said. Asked whether Cockerill would accept a takeover by Thyssen Krupp, he said Cockerill is interested mainly in an ``alliance″ with another steel company.

Thyssen Krupp Stahl as formed last year when the German industrial giants Thyssen AG, and Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp merged their steel operations.

In 1994, Cockerill took over the huge Eko-Stahl steelworks in eastern Germany.

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