America for Sale
How the Foreign Pack Circled and Devoured Esmark
In the summer of 2008, Esmark—the nation's fifth largest steel producer—accepted a purchase offer from the Russian firm Severstal. It was the culmination of an intense courtship among potential suitors from three continents emboldened by the weakening dollar. In the end, the sale was overwhelmingly endorsed by Esmark's shareholders and union leadership, but was it good for the nation as a whole?
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Exploring the issue of foreign ownership of corporate America, a leading economist and the president of the steel producer, Esmark, revisit the sale of that company to a Russian firm.
Is it a good idea to allow foreigners to purchase critical and strategic American assets? No, say authors James Koch and Craig Bouchard. In America for Sale: How the Foreign Pack Circled and Devoured Esmark, Koch and Bouchard use the sale of Esmark—a transaction that put over 50 percent of American steel production into foreign hands—to make the case that this trend presents a clear and present danger to the economic future of United States of America.
America for Sale recaps the amazing, sometimes incredible events leading up to the sale of Esmark, including intense pressure from the United Steelworkers and the company's major public shareholder to make a decision not in the best interest of all shareholders. It also analyzes the efforts by the Esmark board of directors to observe its fiduciary duty, details the company's "poison pill" effort to raise its sales price, and describes the actions of Leo Gerard and Ron Bloom of the United Steelworkers Union—which led to some surprising alliances. The authors—one Esmark's president and vice chairman of the board, the other an Esmark director, preeminent American economist, and former university president—then provide their own assessment of the Esmark story. They offer legislative and policy prescriptions aimed at making sure U.S. business doesn't devolve into one big garage sale to foreigners seeking to take advantage of the coming decline of the U.S. dollar.
- Previously unseen documents relating to the hostile reverse tender merger of Esmark, a historic first in unseating the board of directors of a publicly traded company in the United States
- A chronology of the "America for Sale" phenomenon and of key events in the American steel industry, from the 1970s to 2009
- Approximately 25 tables and one dozen graphs that make it easy for readers to interpret data related to the Esmark sale and the overall foreign stake in American companies
- Text boxes that focus on human interest stories and the amazing quirks attached to the sale of Esmark—for example, one of the Russian bidders also was interested in acquiring the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team and preventing its star Russian hockey player from leaping from a team in the remote Ural mountains to the NHL; that star subsequently led the NHL in scoring in the 2009 NHL season
- Uses the Esmark story to chart the overall decline of the American steel industry
- Argues that the widespread sale of American strategic assets to foreigners at bargain prices is not in our national interest
- Demonstrates the intricacies of international business competition today, showing how ruthless that competition can be
- Proposes specific legislative and policy changes aimed at preventing the overselling of American interests to foreign concerns on the cheap
- Author Info
"Much of the economic discussion in the book is elementary, although at times it becomes very detailed. The details, however, are critical to understanding Esmark's position in the U.S. steel industry and provide some of the answers observers were seeking as the story of Esmark and its sale to Severstal developed. It was commonplace, for example, to hear steel industry veterans ask, 'How are they (the Bouchards) doing this?' or 'How do they think they can pull this off?' America for Sale tells how it was done, complete with all manner of emotion and activity from quiet confidence to brashness, hard negotiation to hand-wringing, threats to compliments and back-room dealing to back-stabbing. There is something in the book for students interested in economic lessons and for steel veterans wanting the inside story to sports fans wondering how Stanley Cup playoff hero Evgeni Malkin ended up playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Readers also will be winners. America for Sale: How the Foreign Pack Circled and Devoured Esmark answers many questions and poses more. Those who read it likely will come away with a better understanding of the moods and motivations of major business leaders as they construct merger deals. . . . Such information could prove invaluable if Bouchard's and Koch's predictions of another round of 'America for sale' are realized."
"In this very readable book, Bouchard (President, Esmark, Inc.) and Koch (Economics, Old Dominion University) argue that the purchase by foreigners of critical and strategic U.S. assets is a danger to the nation's economic future. . . . Delivering an important message, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the global economics, the steel industry, or the decline of the U.S. industrial base."
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