Steel firm wants to diversify overseas

By Zhang Qi
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, March 6, 2011
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Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corp, China's fourth-largest steelmaker in terms of output, plans to invest more in the downstream processing sector in developed countries, rather than sourcing more iron ore overseas as prices of ore mines are relatively high, a company executive said on Saturday.

The company also is considering plans to build steel mills in emerging markets and to expand its overseas sales networks, Chairman Zhang Xiaogang said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress.

The company inked a deal in February with British Stemcor to create a 50-50 joint venture to process steel products for Britain's markets.

"Products and services make the company more internationally competitive, and that's why we aim to expand more overseas processing and service networks, especially in developed countries," said Zhang.

The Chinese steelmaker formed a joint venture with Stemcor to sell steel products in Spain in 2007.

Anshan Steel now sources more than 44 percent of its own iron ore and will increase the proportion, but not on a large scale, Zhang said.

The company's domestic iron-ore mines produced 15 million tons last year. Its Karara joint venture project in western Australia, which will become operational this year, has a production capacity of 8 million tons.

"The international ore prices are too high right now, so we would rather focus our overseas investment strategy in downstream sectors," Zhang said.

The company and the US-based Steel Development Company signed a deal in September last year to jointly build a steel rebar project in the US market.

Total investment in the Mississippi steel rebar project is $168 million, with Anshan Steel taking a 14-percent share.

Anshan Iron also plans to acquire nickel and chromium resources through overseas mergers or purchases, as the company considers building a stainless steel and specialty steel business to further diversify, Zhang said.

Wang Min, Party chief of Northeast China's Liaoning province, where Anshan Steel is located, said the merger between Anshan Iron and Benxi Iron and Steel Group will make progress soon.

Anshan Steel announced in 2005 that it agreed to acquire Benxi Steel to form Anben Iron and Steel Group; however, the two firms have yet to transfer their operating assets to the new entity. The two companies' financial, sales and purchasing departments haven't been integrated.

The move is a part of Anshan Steel's bid to reach an annual production capacity of 60 million tons in the next five years and to become one of the world's top five steelmakers by 2015.

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