National Steel's Granite City, Ill., division would be among facilities acquired. (Photo courtesy of National Steel Corp.)

National Steel Corp. said it has deemed U.S. Steel Corp "the highest and best bidder" for its assets after an April 16 auction. National said the following day that U.S. Steel's bid of $1.05 billion was superior to a $1.125-billion offer from AK Steel Corp., and noted that AK Steel failed to reach a new labor agreement with the United Steelworkers of America. AK Steel's proposal thus became conditioned on rejection of all of National's labor pacts with the steelworkers' union, according to U.S. Steel.

National, based in Mishawaka, Ind., has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since March 2002.

U.S. Steel's offer includes $850 million in cash and assumption of $200 million in National lease and other obligations.

The bid now goes before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which will hold a hearing on the matter in Chicago on April 21.

If the deal is approved, U.S. Steel would acquire National's two integrated steel plants--Great Lakes Steel in Michigan and the Granite City Division in Illinois--and other facilities.

When U.S. Steel announced an agreement to purchase National's assets in January, an official of the Pittsburgh-based company cited National's strong position in construction markets and said the deal would boost its position in that sector.