Eight leading domestic and international coke producers, users and consultants, including BHP Billiton and US Steel, Monday signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to produce and sell coke in the Chinese market.
The joint venture also seeks to raise 5-6 billion yuan (US$602-722 million) through initial public offering on the domestic or overseas stock markets in five years, and to become the largest coke coal producer in China.
The eight shareholders of the joint venture, named the Northern Coke and Chemical Co Ltd, are China National Coal Energy Group - the nation's largest coal exporter, China Coal and Coke Holding Ltd - a solely-owned subsidiary of CNCEG, BHP Billiton - the leading energy conglomerate, US Steel - one of the largest steel and coke producer in US, and two local coke and chemical companies, one iron and steel company and a design and research institute.
The companies are still negotiating on the split of the shareholding of the joint venture.
"The signing of the memorandum marks the start of the preparation of the establishment of the joint venture," said Hu Zugui, chairman and CEO of China Coal & Coke Holding Ltd yesterday at the annual conference of China Northern Coke & Chemical Association, an influential organization in the industry.
"The shareholders include the whole value chain of the coke industry including the coal producer, coke producer and consultant, and the coke-using steel company.
"The joint venture is an important way to improve the ability to fend off the risks and become bigger and stronger."
After the establishment, the joint venture would first incorporate the coke and chemical sales of the eight companies in a year or two. Combined sales are expected to reach 12 million tons a year, making the company among the largest in the industry.
Meanwhile, the company would also acquire and merge domestic coke and chemical firms for expansion.
As the next step, the shareholders will inject production facilities and capital into the joint venture. The company is expected to have an annual production capacity of 15 million tons with total assets of 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion).
The joint venture then will reshuffle its assets and seek foreign strategical investors to prepare for floating on the stock markets.
(China Daily May 18, 2004)