CLEVELAND & WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE: CLF) and AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE: AKS) are pleased to announce that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Cliffs will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of AK Steel common stock. Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Cliffs, will lead the expanded organization.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, AK Steel shareholders will receive 0.40 shares of Cliffs common stock for each outstanding share of AK Steel common stock they own. Upon completion of the transaction, Cliffs shareholders will own approximately 68% and AK Steel shareholders will own approximately 32% of the combined company, respectively, on a fully diluted basis.
The fixed exchange ratio implies a consideration of $3.36 per share of AK Steel common stock and represents a premium of 16% based on the closing share prices of Cliffs and AK Steel common shares, respectively, as of December 2, 2019, and a premium of 27% based on the 30-day volume weighted average price of AK Steel common shares. The transaction implies an aggregate consideration to AK Steel shareholders of approximately $1.1 billion on a fully diluted basis, a total enterprise value of approximately $3.0 billion for AK Steel and an acquisition multiple of 5.6x LTM Adjusted EBITDA.
The transaction will combine Cliffs, North America’s largest producer of iron ore pellets, with AK Steel, a leading producer of innovative flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel products, to create a vertically integrated producer of value-added iron ore and steel products. The combined company will be ideally positioned to provide high-value iron ore and steel solutions to customers primarily across North America.
Mr. Goncalves stated: “We are excited to be able to deliver real value to the shareholders of both Cliffs and AK Steel through a value enhancing and leverage-neutral transaction. By combining the best-in-class quality of AK Steel’s assets and its enviable product mix with Cliffs’ debt profile and proven management team, we are creating a premier North American company, self-sufficient in iron ore pellets and geared toward high value-added steel products.”
He continued, “The pro forma Cliffs will be a vertically integrated steel company that is expected to drive improved profitability for existing Cliffs and AK Steel shareholders and is well-positioned to serve both the blast furnace and electric arc furnace segments. In addition, Cliffs’ existing strong balance sheet and self-sufficiency in pellets for the combined company provide flexibility to pursue additional growth opportunities, including the potential future utilization of the blast furnace in Ashland to produce merchant pig iron, an opportunity neither company could pursue on a standalone basis.”
Mr. Goncalves concluded, “For Cliffs, we expect to realize immediate growth and a long-desired objective of a more diverse customer base, as well as more predictable cash flow generation due to the contracted nature of AK Steel’s sales of high-end automotive steel. Our track record of providing high-grade iron ore combined with AK Steel’s recognized ability to produce the highest quality steel grades, creates a highly complementary and compelling business model. We look forward to welcoming the AK Steel team into our organization and creating a unique company focused on executing value-enhancing opportunities for all of our stakeholders.”
Roger K. Newport, CEO of AK Steel, added, “We believe this transaction is a compelling opportunity for AK Steel shareholders to participate in the substantial upside potential of what will be a premier vertically integrated producer of value-added iron ore and steel products with significant scale and diversification. Our shareholders will benefit from exposure to a larger, more diversified company that is better positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities. The combination of Cliffs’ iron ore pellet capabilities and our innovative, high-quality steel product development and production is strategically compelling. Together, we expect to be able to take advantage of growth opportunities faster and more fully than either company could on its own. With AK Steel’s 120-year heritage, which began in Ohio, and expertise in steelmaking, AK Steel and Cliffs make an excellent combination, which we expect will facilitate a smooth integration process.”