Wall Street Journal: Bulgarian Steel Battle Heats Up

Wall Street Journal: Bulgarian Steel Battle Heats Up

Union workers at the giant, troubled steel plant recently held managers as virtual prisoners to force them to sign a contract, The Wall Street Journal writes today.

An ex-wrestler who allegedly amassed wealth by squeezing the plant for cash was shot dead by a sniper. Suppliers are suing the factory to force it into bankruptcy as two steel magnates compete to gain control of it.

In Russia and Central Asia, such sagas of companies in chaotic power struggles have become familiar. But the Kremikovtzi steel plant is in the European Union, the WSJ points out.

The steel mill, which currently works at held its capacity failed to pay workers' wages and several times this year and also owes money to suppliers.

Next week Sofia City Court will decide on the future of the factory, which once employed 20,000 people (down to 6,000 this year). The current owner is Pramod Mittal, the brother of Lakshmi Mittal, which controls Arcelor Mittal – the biggest steel company in the world.

Arcelor Mittal wishes to buy the factory after the insolvency procedure and signed contracts suppliers last month, but before supplies begin, it is awaiting to see if the Bulgarian government will support the bid.

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