Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., Japan’s biggest and fourth-largest steelmakers, officially announced Wednesday their intentions to begin negotiations on a business alliance that would slash production, distribution and material-procurement costs.

The statement follows an announcement by Sumitomo Metal on Tuesday that it will study ways to reinforce its tieup with Nippon Steel as they already have business ties in the stainless steel and building materials fields.

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