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Ryerson chief has last laugh


CHICAGO — Neil S. Novich, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ryerson Inc., was given a new lease on his job following a proxy fight for control of the company's board at Ryerson's annual meeting.

Novich said before the Aug. 23 vote that he still had no assurances on what his position would be if a $2-billion deal the board negotiated to sell Chicago-based Ryerson to Platinum Equity LLC, Beverly Hills, Calif., is completed later this year.

But a review of documents on the proposed merger filed by Ryerson with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after the annual meeting shows that Novich, 53, would be in line for compensation totaling at least $13.8 million in performance awards, incentives and other benefits if the deal is completed.

Steel industry analysts, few of whom are willing to talk about Ryerson or Novich on the record these days, have long criticized the performance of the service center giant that Novich has headed for eight years after leaving a distribution and logistics industry consultancy practice he founded at Bain & Co.

Novich then helped to orchestrate Ryerson's spin-off from the former Inland Steel Co., which is now part of ArcelorMittal. He organized sharp cuts in the company's operations during industry cutbacks in the early part of this decade before negotiating the $644-million acquisition of Integris Metal Inc. from Alcoa Inc. and BHP Billiton three years ago.

Novich and other Ryerson executives have consistently defended the company as performing on par with other service center industry competitors.

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