News, commentary and snippets of information from around the PVF world.

>> Consolidation is the big buzzword in the steel business with the attempted merger, spurred by desperation, of USX and Bethlehem Steel, and perhaps other U.S. firms.

Meantime, French steel company Usinor SA has secured a deal to create the world's biggest steel company, now known only as Newco. The company said Nov. 22 it agreed to a deal to buy Spain's Aceralia Corporacion Siderurgica SA and Luxembourg's Arbed SA. A Usinor official said the new company should be in operation by Feb. 25. With annual sales of $30 billion, the new company would topple Japan's Nippon Steel Corp. from the No. 1 position in the global steel industry.

>> Spirax Sarco has purchased M&M International of Bergamo, Italy. M&M is a manufacturer and distributor of solenoid and piston-activated valves.

>> Consolidation of another sort is being practiced by Hughes Supply, which aims to reduce the number of vendors it deals with from 13,600 to about 8,000, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel. The company especially wants to eliminate most of the 44 faucet companies it deals with.

The company also is reducing its business units from six to three groups: plumbing & electrical; industrial PVF; and water and sewer and building materials. The investment community likes what Hughes is doing, with its stock price rising from the teens at the end of 2000 to more than $29 at this writing in early December.