Nippon Steel executive saw positive reaction from U.S. Steel workers and others

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nippon Steel Vice Chairman Takahiro Mori met with U.S. Steel’s employees and community leaders this week to gain better understanding of its proposed acquisition of the U.S. company and saw positive reaction, a company spokesperson said.

Mori, the key negotiator for the U.S. Steel deal, returned to the United States this week, soon after a May 20-26 trip, in an effort to close the deal amid growing regulatory scrutiny and political opposition as well as objections from the powerful United Steelworkers (USW) union over fears of job losses.

Mori held talks with employees of the U.S. Steel’s plants in Gary Indiana and Mon Valley, Pennsylvania, outlining the Japanese steelmaker’s plans, including commitments to jobs and investments on blast furnaces, the spokesperson said in an email late on Friday.

“We are pleased to see the positive and supportive reaction to Mori’s visits, and we remain focused on directly communicating our vision to the people who stand to benefit the most from this transaction,” the company said.

The world’s No. 4 steelmaker wants to build public opinion to back the deal, hoping this may push the union to come to the table, Mori told Reuters in a recent interview.

The two steelmakers said last month that they have received all regulatory approvals outside of the United States for their proposed $14.9 billion merger, a step forward towards the completion of the controversial deal.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Kim Coghill)