(Bloomberg) -- United States Steel Corp. accused rival Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. of conducing a “misinformation campaign” as the growing animosity between the two American steelmakers descended into a public war of words on Tuesday.

US Steel issued a strongly worded statement accusing Cliffs of spreading incorrect information to suggest its $14.1 billion takeover by Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. was in jeopardy. That prompted a rapid-fire response from its competitor, calling the allegations inaccurate and repeating earlier comments that it doesn’t believe the deal will succeed.

Cliffs was one of several bidders last year for all or part of US Steel, and its combative Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves has repeatedly spoken out against the deal, including by suggesting he’d be willing to make a lower offer for US Steel if the Nippon Steel takeover fell apart. Cliffs also has the support of the influential United Steelworkers’ union, which opposes the current deal. 

Read More: Cliffs Still Keen on US Steel as Doubts Linger on Nippon Bid

“The investment by NSC has been under attack since day one by one of our competitors and unsuccessful bidder – Cleveland-Cliffs – who have been sowing misinformation to our stakeholders in a relentless and unbridled effort to derail the transaction,” US Steel’s board said in an open letter published on Tuesday.

“While Cleveland-Cliffs is pushing false rumors to influence the market into believing we are working to unwind the transaction, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Never miss an episode. Follow The Big Take DC podcast today.

Nippon Steel agreed to buy US Steel in December, but opposition from the United Steelworkers and comments by President Joe Biden have left investors uncertain of the deal’s fate. 

The deal has already been approved by US Steel shareholders, but faces a US regulatory review and has turned into a political lightning rod with tensions high in an election year. Biden said in March that US Steel should remain American owned, and the USW has repeatedly rebuffed efforts by Nippon Steel to hold discussions. 

--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.

(Adds Cliffs statement in second paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.