Federal Judge John H. Squires approved a motion making AK Steel Corp., Middletown, Ohio, the lead bidder with its offer to acquire substantially all the assets of National Steel Corp. for $1.125 billion. Under terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement (APA), AK Steel has until March 17, 2003, to reach agreement with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) on a new contract for the National employees represented by the union. If no agreement is reached by that date, either AK Steel or National Steel may terminate the APA. AK Steel's bid includes $200 million consisting of the assumption of certain liabilities with the remaining $925 million payable to National in cash, with $450 million of that amount for net working capital.