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ArcelorMittal mulls sale of $10 billion Canadian iron ore business

The world’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) would be considering to sale a stake in its $10 billion Canadian iron ore business, in an attempt to weather the slump in its key commodity.

According to a Financial Times’ report (subs. required), the steelmaker has hired consultants and it’s feeling out potential buyers of a stake in the iron ore unit, previously known as Québec Cartier Mining, once a leading iron ore producer in North America.

“The entire business, which produced about 15m tonnes of iron ore concentrate last year, could be worth $8-10bn,” FT’s sources say. “ArcelorMittal is considering selling a minority stake, probably about 30%,” they ad.

FT reveals that a few Chinese firms and commodities trading houses are interested in acquiring part of the Luxembourg-based company’s iron ore business, ArcelorMittal Mines Canada.

The global steel industry is pessimist about both existing market conditions and future prospects, with the worries being most intense in Europe and the declining Chinese consumption, say analysts.

The most significant evidence of a sinking steel market was the unexpected May announcement from thyssenkrupp of Germany who said it was looking for buyers for two big and expensive steel mills in the US and Brazil, costing about $16 billion between them, which it started planning before the crisis.

Later in July, ArcelorMittal’s chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal, Indian-born Britain’s richest man, announced the company was closing down or shelving some of its European plants.

At the same time the selling of a stake in Canada’s iron ore unit news came out, the steel maker giant’s stock had its “buy” rating restated by equities researchers. In a report issued Thursday AlphaValue said it had a $20.13 target price on the stock.

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at Nord/LB reiterated a “sell” rating on shares of ArcelorMittal in a research note to investors on Wednesday. They now have a $13.16 price target on the stock.

ArcelorMittal’s steel has been used in famous landmarks around the world, including the new 1WTC in New York City, the Grand National Theatre of China in Beijing, the new Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, and the world’s first-ever zero emission polar research station, Princess Elisabeth Antarctica.

International sports venues have also been built with ArcelorMittal steel, from Johannesburg’s Soccer City to the Cape Town Stadium, both used for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, to the Wembley Stadium in London.

Image: Boy sells “out of the press” newspapers. U.S. National Archives