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Russian steel giants in $US 600 million merger

Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK) has agreed to buy 50 per cent plus one share of rival metal firm Maxi group. The deal, worth $US 600 million, gives NLMK a controlling stake in Maxi and increases its share of the building steel market.

NLMK will take on Maxi's estimated debt of $US 1.8 billion as part of the purchase.

Maxi's founder, Nikolai Maximov, will retain ownership of the rest of the company.

Ekaterinburg-based Maxi plans to raise steel production by almost 250% in the next five years.