Korean consortium bids for Australian iron-ore giant Arrium

2,500 steelworkers could be back on the payroll following steelworks closure last year

A consortium of companies including Korean steel juggernaut POSCO has made a bid for Arrium, a major Australian iron ore miner and steelmaker.

Split into two divisions, Arrium runs the steelworks at Whyalla, South Australia, and is also a supplier (to Whyalla) and an exporter of hematite iron ore. It is Australia's only manufacturer of long steel products, with capacity of about 2.5 million tonnes a year. Arrium also has steel operations on the east coast.

The company was forced into "voluntary administration" in April 2016 with debts of over AUD$4 billion.

But the company was forced into "voluntary administration" in April 2016 with debts of over AUD$4 billion. Voluntary administration is an insolvency procedure whereby the directors of a financially troubled company appoint an external administrator called a "voluntary administrator".

The shutdown affected about 2,500 steelworkers who lost their jobs.

Today, however, it was announced that a consortium headed by Newlake Alliance Management and JB Asset Management and supported by POSCO, has bid on the business that was put up for sale by administrator KordaMentha and its advisers Morgan Stanley. A bid figure was not disclosed. The sale would have to be approved by the creditors committee and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The consortium outbid rival consortium Liberty Group and Simec.

The Australian opined that it was the greater firepower brought to the table through POSCO, which is the world's fourth largest steelmaker, that sealed the bid.

"The opportunity for the Korean steelmaker is thought to be one where a distribution network is created to distribute its own steel products throughout Australia from out of Korea and make it more competitive with Australian steel making champion BlueScope," Australian Business Review wrote.

POSCO also reportedly is able to produce iron or steel from thermal coal, "which could lower Arrium’s steelmaking costs, and make an acquisition of the loss-making Whyalla a viable proposition," according to an analysis of the deal. A byproduct of the FINEX steelmaking process is natural gas, which could generate up to 250 megawatts, ABC News said.