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Steeled For War

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It seems the standoff between steel czar Lakshmi Mittal and the French government might snowball into a bigger row involving charges of racism. The epicentre of the verbal duel is ArcelorMittal’s Florange plant in northeastern France, a part of which the steel major had shut owing to falling demand. The demand for steel in Europe has fallen by almost a quarter since 2009.

Of the 2,800 workers at the plant, around 650 were affected by the shutdown. Now, the government wants Mittal to make the furnaces functional to save the workers. On 1 October, the steel giant had said it would want to sell the idle furnaces and asked the government to find a buyer. But the government wants Mittal to sell the entire plant, and French President Francois Hollande hinted at nationalising it. “We do not want Mittal in France any longer; they do not respect France,” said industrial renewal minister Arnaud Montebourg. Mittal says the family is “shocked” to hear the comment. So which way Florange will go is a billion-dollar question.
Checking In
Subrata Roy-promoted Sahara India has acquired a 75 per cent stake in iconic New York luxury hotel Plaza for $575 million. The remaining stake will be retained by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Group, the present owners of the hotel. Sahara has also bought the luxury Dream New York from hotelier Vikram Chatwal for $220 million, said a report.
Black Mark
BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s (RIM) troubles seem nowhere close to ending. It has lost a
CAUGHT OUT: RIM lost a dispute with Nokia and faces a ban on its devices
contract dispute with Nokia, having been found to be in breach of a WLAN (wireless local area network) patent held by the latter by a Swedish arbitration panel. RIM has to make royalty payments to Nokia and may even face a ban on the sale of its devices in several countries, including the US.

The Fall Season
Desktop and laptop sales in India have dipped in the second quarter compared with last year’s sales for the same period. Research firm Gartner’s data shows that India’s mobile PC market has fallen by 5.9 per cent — some 2.9 million units were sold in the quarter ended September 2012.
Power Of Two
Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will merge their thermal power businesses by 2014. The move is aimed at countering global giants Siemens and General Electric. Hitachi and Mitsubishi will have a 65:35 joint venture with $13 billion in annual sales. The firms will collaborate on a range of products comprising gas turbines, 
environment equipment and fuel cells.

Cities On Edge
With just a few weeks left before the UN climate talks  start in Doha, a report said cities in countries such as India face grave environmental risks and resource scarcity from climate change. The report by engineering and design consultancy Atkins along with the University College of London and the UK government’s Department for International Development assessed the risks, vulnerabilities and capabilities of 129 cities in 20 countries and found that several cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, face  water and food supply risks.
Digging Deeper
RIO TINTO: Time to cut costs
It is a cut that signals a crisis. Rio Tinto, the world’s second-biggest mining group, said it would slash costs to the tune of $5 billion over the next two years. That said, the company said it would simultaneously boost production at its iron ore, copper and alumina units.  The cut comes at a time when fall in commodity prices and demand have impacted profits of 
mining firms. 
Global Ride
Apollo Tyres said it would pump in $1 billion in the next five years to expand its global footprint, which includes setting up two new plants in South-east Asia and eastern Europe. 

Progress Report
The government has raised Rs 932 crore through disinvestment in public sector firms so far in FY 2012-13, according to finance minister P. Chidambaram. 

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 10-12-2012)