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ArcelorMittal widens footprint in Asia with G Steel stake

Earlier this month, ArcelorMittal announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a 40% stake in the Thai steel producer G Steel. The deal which is subject to G Steel reducing its outstanding liability level will cost ArcelorMittal about USD 246 million. The company competes with other international steel giants like BaoSteel, POSCO, Nippon Steel and ThyssenKrupp.

Since the announcement of the deal, ArcelorMittal's shares have lost nearly 10% from above USD 37 to just below USD 34. Our price estimate for ArcelorMittal stands at USD 40.67, roughly 15% above market price.

What Does G Steel Have to Offer?

G Steel, along with its subsidiary GJ Steel, is a leading producer of hot rolled steel coils. With a 1,400 strong staff, G Steel has a combined annual capacity of over 2.5 million tonnes of steel. ArcelorMittal's 40% stake gives it a foothold in Thailand though would not result in any significant increase in capacity since ArcelorMittal produces over 100 million metric tons of steel annually.

ArcelorMittal clearly aims at increasing its presence in Thailand and the neighboring ASEAN countries which have seen significant economic development in the recent past, and where the demand for steel is strong and expected to increase considerably in the years to come.

The major concern in this deal for ArcelorMittal is G Steel's profitability. G Steel has been reporting losses in excess of THB 10 billion for the last 2 years. This combined with the high working capital requirements in the steel industry has forced the company to undertake a significant amount of debt. This could weigh on the company and reduce profitability in the future.

What is ArcelorMittal putting into the Deal?

ArcelorMittal announced that it would be buying 11.9 billion new shares of G Steel at THB 0.63 (just over 2 cents) per share. As the G Steel market price was hovering around THB 0.7 before the announcement, this represents a 10% discount for ArcelorMittal, and a total cost of around USD 246 million.

ArcelorMittal also seems to have addressed the high debt issue for G Steel by pledging USD 500 million as additional credit to help improve its working capital and repay a part of its loan. We can, hence, say that ArcelorMittal is putting in about USD 746 million in G Steel to help it turn around its business.

And how much do they stand to gain?

The direct impact of the added capacity will be seen in an increase in the shipment figures for ArcelorMittal's Asia, Africa and CIS (AACIS) division.

We estimated this division's shipments to be almost 14 million tonnes for 2011. But this deal would increase this figure by at least 0.7 million tonne, and add about 1 million tonne to the shipment figures in the coming years.

While this represents a slightly more than 1% increase in our estimate for the company's stock price, we believe it adds about USD 900 million in value to ArcelorMittal's, increasing its estimated market cap from our current estimate of USD 63.5 billion to USD 64.4 billion. This certainly seems to be a bargain for the steel giant.

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