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Baotou Steel Plans Asset Purchase
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Baotou Steel Union Co in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous region , whose parent may sell a stake to Arcelor Mittal, plans to pay about 6.97 billion yuan (US$882 million) to buy assets from its controlling shareholder to expand. Its shares surged on the news.


The listed steelmaker will offer 3.03 billion new yuan-denominated shares to Baotou Iron & Steel Group at 2.3 yuan (29 US cents) each, the company said yesterday in a statement. Baotou Iron & Steel, the parent, is in talks with the world's top steelmaker over the possible sale of a 49 percent stake.


The acquisition will mean that almost the entire group is publicly traded, making it easier for Baotou Steel Union to take over or merge with rivals. China, the world's biggest steelmaker, is encouraging consolidation in the industry to curb overcapacity and boost competitiveness as its economy expands.


"The Chinese Government is pushing its State-owned companies to be fully listed," said Wang Shuai, steel analyst with KGI Consulting Co. The policy helps companies to "boost operational efficiency, enhance transparency, and pave the way for them to finance expansion from the public."


The proposed price of the new stock is on a par with Baotou Steel Union's closing share price of 2.31 yuan (29 US cents) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on October 27, its last day of trading before yesterday's announcement. The stock resumed trading and jumped by the daily limit of 10 percent to 2.54 yuan (32 US cents).


China's top steelmakers including Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, Angang Steel Co and Wuhan Iron & Steel Co have completed the move to have all their steel assets publicly traded. Baoshan Steel raised 10.2 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) by offering stock to its parent and investors in April last year to fund the purchase, while Angang paid 19.7 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) in stock to buy the plants in January.


(China Daily November 3, 2006)


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