Usinor: Shareholders' Meeting of May 23, 2001


PUTEAUX, France, May 23, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- Usinor.

The Shareholders' Meeting of May 23, 2001 was presided over by Francis Mer. All proposed resolutions were approved. In particular, the meeting approved Usinor's accounts (parent company) for 2000 and declared a dividend payable on June 6, 2001 in the amount of euro 0.56 per share, with a tax credit of euro 0.28.

2000 : A Favorable Year for the Industry

In the context of 5% growth in the world economy in 2000, the steel industry made significant progress. "Beyond this improvement driven by a high level of activity, notably in the car industry, appliances and mechanical industries, Usinor benefited from a favorable business climate : improved deliveries conditions to our clients as well as reinforced preference of the Group's best performing products".

"However, this economic situation did not continue and during the third quarter 2000, we noted the first signs of a reduction in activity followed by the usual consequences on selling prices," noted Francis Mer during his speech.

This situation caused Usinor to take the initiative to cut production of hot rolled coils in Europe. This measure, taken during the last quarter, has been pursued throughout the first half of the present year in order to facilitate de-stocking.

To conclude his comments on year 2000, the Chairman re-emphasized the Group's commitment to e-business, "perspectives given by the development of new technologies expanding and accelerating the Group interaction with its partners, suppliers and clients." The launching of KeyMRO this year, in partnership with three French corporations, has been realized with the clear objective of optimizing procurement of products which are not specific to steel production. Steel-User and Steel 24-7, created in 2000, continue to develop.

Build the Future

Concluding the meeting, Francis Mer made the following comments regarding the major initiatives decided on in 2000, as disclosed at the beginning of the year, "To install the future at the heart of our activities and in order to be ready for the globalization of the industry, we have chosen to combine a merger of "corporations" with the announced project of merger between Usinor, Aceralia and Arbed, and a merger of "grey matter" by signing a global strategic Alliance with Nippon steel." This strategy answers to the Group's ambition to grow in Europe, and by improving its performance, to have the means to grow rapidly outside of Europe in order to better accompany its already globalized clients anywhere in the world."

Perspectives for 2001

In a context where activity levels remain high, Usinor has been impacted by sales price declines throughout the world, which hit most of the Group's products and markets.

Two factors could influence the length and the extent of this stormy period : the very difficult situation of the North American steel industry and the relative slowness of the Japanese steel industry to consolidate, coupled with a sluggish economy.

Nevertheless, the steady and reasonable growth and the inventory decreases noted in Europe do not exclude moderate price increases after the summer. These perspectives, and active pursuit of cost reduction, as stated by Robert Hudry, Senior Executive Vice President, allow Usinor to envisage for 2001 results which, while not as strong as 2000, should show a strong improvement compared to 1999, a year characterized by unprecedented difficulties.

This press release contains certain forward looking statements regarding anticipated market evolution and the future prospects of Usinor. While these statements are based on the Company's best estimations as of the date hereof, actual results will vary as a function of market conditions, the action of competitors, consumer demand, steel prices, economic conditions and other factors.


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