International Steel Mills

Vale May Sell Share of CSA

Written by Sandy Williams

Brazilian mining company, Vale SA, plans to sell its share of CSA owned by ThyssenKrupp according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.

Jose Carlos Martins, head of Vale’s Ferrous division and Strategy told WSJ that Vale typically invests in Brazilian steel plants to increase domestic steel production and then sells its share once the plant is financially stable. The ThyssenKrupp Brazilian plant has cost Vale and TK more than $7 billion and has yet to turn a profit.

No timetable was given, but Martins said that depressed steel prices would need to recover before a sale of Vale’s CSA shares would be feasible.

It has been suggested that Vale blocked CSN’s bid for the plant by refusing to sell its shares of CSA at that time.

Other sources have told SMU that the iron ore supply contract at CSA was a key selling point for the plant and because CSN has its own ore supply, it backed away from the sale. According to our source, reports that CSN was still in the bidding process in November were false. The agreement had been made with AM/NSSMC by November 18 but the legal work concerning the sale took additional time.

The difficulties at CSA began with building the mill on unstable ground and buying a Chinese coke oven instead of using ThyssenKrupp’s own coke making technology. According to SMU sources the coke oven foundation at the mill is cracked and there are other serious issues that have detracted from the salability of the plant.

With the announced sale of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA to a joint venture consisting of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC) and their slab supply agreement with TK CSA for 2 million metric tons per year, it makes the plant more palatable to any potential buyer.

Our source had the following to say on a possible anti-trust judgment from the Department of Justice regarding the TK USA purchase by ArcelorMittal/NSSM:.

“There is no way that the DOJ will require AM to close any facility. Their only option would be to require the sale of a plant or two to another party who will be required to become a competitor, such as CSN (laugh). Clearly their requirement to sell Sparrows Point was incompetent. I think that the AM’s share of the auto market has been overstated and includes 100% of the I/N Tek and I’N Kote joint venture with NSSMC.”

The expectation is that the DOJ will not block the sale of TK USA. At the same time, it is our opinion it may be quite awhile before Vale has the ability to sell their shares in the CSA mill in Brazil. In the meantime, Vale still has the rights to supply the CSA mill iron ore.

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