© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A staff checks finished aluminum coils at the facility of Novelis in Sierre, Switzerland

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. aluminum producer Novelis is set to secure EU antitrust approval for its $2.6 billion bid for Aleris, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Novelis, which is U.S.-based but owned by India’s Hindalco Industries, has agreed to sell Aleris’ Belgian plant, the people said, to address European Commission worries that the deal may reduce competition and lead to higher prices, hitting carmakers in particular.

The Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the case by Oct. 7, declined to comment.

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolled products and aluminum recycling, is seeking to diversify into the aerospace, automotive, beverage can and construction industries.

It had sought to ease regulatory concerns by offering to increase capacity and add 80 new jobs at Aleris’ Duffel plant but the competition enforcer forced the company to offer a far-reaching package of concessions, the people said.

“We are working constructively with the European Commission with the continued aim of closing the transaction by the end of this calendar year. We have no additional comment at this time,” Novelis said.

The company had previously dismissed suggestions of price hikes resulting from the deal, saying that rival aluminum and steel producers would fill the gap and furthermore customers were prepared to take their business elsewhere if that were to happen.

The deal also requires approval from U.S. and Chinese watchdogs.

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2019-08-29