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Arrium willing to enter takeover talks

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MELBOURNE, Nov 19 AAP

November 19 2012, 4:15PM

Arrium's chairman has told the steelmaker's shareholders the board is willing to engage with any suitor if it is offering a fair price.

The mining and steelmaking company recently rejected a $1.2 billion offer from a foreign consortium including Asian commodities giant Noble and steel giant Posco.

Shareholders expressed fears at the company's annual general meeting on Monday about posting losses due to predatory investments by wholesale traders, such as hedge funds.

Such investors aimed to buy and sell quickly to a suitor and achieve a short-term return.

Arrium chairman Peter Smedley said the best defence against that happening was to meet its targets and control what it could, such as costs, achieving iron ore shipments of six million tonnes a year and maximising earnings out of its other divisions such as steel making and mining consumables, including grinding.

"We believe we're doing everything possible to be competitive by international standards," Mr Smedley told shareholders.

The company's remuneration report was passed with a significant protest vote of more than 19.6 per cent, following lobbying by a proxy adviser CGI Glass Lewis to reject it.

Chief executive Geoff Plummer's salary package last year was reported as being more than $4.4 million but Mr Smedley said he was actually paid much less than that - about $2.7 million.