Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 15 News List

BlueScope Steel, Nippon Steel ink joint venture pact

AFP, SYDNEY

Australia’s struggling BlueScope Steel yesterday announced a US$1.36 billion joint venture with Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp (NSC) in a bid to tap new markets and address its balance sheet concerns.

The 50-50 joint venture, NS BlueScope Coated Products, will see Nippon Steel acquire half of BlueScope’s interest in its Southeast Asian and North American building products businesses.

Bluescope said the venture would generate about US$540 million in net proceeds, sending its share price up by nearly 50 percent, before settling back to A$0.36, up 38 percent by mid-afternoon.

The news was a boost for the Australian steelmaker which posted a net loss of A$530 million for the first half of last year.

Last August it revealed a A$1.05 billion full year loss and announced it would cut more than 1,000 jobs and shut down its Australian export business amid a soaring Australian dollar.

It said the US$1.36 billion deal would help “capture expected growth in the US$40 billion per annum building and construction sector”

“We chose to partner with NSC because it is one of the world’s largest and most innovative steel companies,” Bluescope chief executive Paul O’Malley added.

Nippon Steel president Shoji Muneoka said his company was “delighted.”

“The global building products business has strong momentum and is well positioned to benefit from future growth throughout Asia and the US,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with BlueScope to expand the product and customer base to grow earnings and maximize value for both parties.”

The new venture will be headquartered in Singapore and does not include BlueScope’s building products businesses in Australia, China and India.

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