US Steel may invest in Czech factories

US Steel plans to expand to the Czech market soon through acquisitions of some of the country's steel factories, a spokesman for US Steel's Slovak unit, said on Monday. Jozef Marko from US Steel Kosice told Reuters that America's leading steel maker had already expressed interest in buying steel industries in the neighbouring Czech Republic, but said he could not specify the target companies or size of the planned acquisitions.

Last week the Czech media reported government officials as saying the U.S. steel giant had expressed interest in buying into Nova Hut, Vitkovice and Vysoke Pece Ostrava steel companies. However, Marko declined to comment on the claims. US Steel took over the core steel making operations of the troubled Slovak steel maker VSZ Kosice in late 2000, in its first and so far only European acquisition.

It's re-focused the plant's production on value-added goods like steel sheets used in car-making, planning to attract the region's car makers, such as Volkswagen, the Czech Republic's Skoda, General Motors, Russia'a AutoVAZ and Romania's Dacia.

Marko said it was not yet clear whether the potential Czech acquisitions would be carried out and managed by the Kosice unit, or directly from Pittsburgh. But as he said, for now it seems certain that US Steel Kosice remains the base for the company's future activities in Europe.