ISTANBUL – Mittal Steel, the world’s biggest steel manufacturer, said yesterday it had officially begun its bid to buy Turkey’s state-owned Eregli Demir Celik (Erdemir). «We bought the privatization list of conditions and are carrying out our examination. Most of our consultants have been appointed,» Ondra Otradovec, Mittal’s finance director, told a news conference. Turkey launched the tender for a block sale of a 49.29 percent stake in Erdemir, the country’s largest flat steel producer, on May 24. The sale is a key element in the country’s IMF-backed privatization program. The bidding deadline for Erdemir is September 26, 2005. Currently, 47.17 percent of Erdemir is publicly traded. Mittal Steel, owned by Indian-born magnate Lakshmi Mittal, operates in 14 countries and reported a $22.2 billion turnover in 2004. A number of foreign firms, including Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus, Luxembourg-based Arcelor, US Steel and Russia’s Novolipetsk and Severstal, are interested in buying into Erdemir. Turkish companies Borusan and Kibar Holding have also expressed an interest in the tender. Turkey’s IMF-backed privatization program has failed to carry out a series of major sales, with tenders for its cigarette and oil refinery companies canceled due to legal challenges and unsatisfactory bids.