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GER - Voestalpine expects slump in steel market

Reuters reported that Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine expects a trough in the steel market this summer, with a difficult 12 to 18 months ahead.

Mr Wolfgang Eder CEO of Voestalpine told journalists in a briefing that "We think there will be a trough over the summer, but this will last until the summer of 2010. In the second half of 2010 we see the possibility that economic growth will start to pick up again.” He confirmed Voestalpine's 2008-09 full year outlook for EBIT of around EUR 1 billion and said it expects no loss in 2009-10.

Mr Eder said that “He saw Voestalpine well prepared financially for the year ahead, with EUR 1.4 billion euros in liquidity to hand. Voestalpine's priority however is to massively reduce debt over the next 24 months. We had a gearing of over 100 percent at the end of the third quarter. We will be able to reduce that by a few percentage points throughout the year. Under 70% is a sustainable gearing for us." Mr Eder said that asset sales is out of the question.

The steelmaker has reduced its workforce by almost 10 percent since October after the worldwide economic slump ate into demand for steel from carmakers and construction companies. Voestalpine’s plants are operating at about 70% of capacity.

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