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Arcelor to Raise Shipments by 20 Pct

ArcelorMittal plans to increase steel shipments by more than 20 percent from 2006 to 2012 as it pushes into Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, the company said Friday.

Increased shipments would bring annual sales to 144 million tons) from last year's 122 million tons.

Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal described worldwide demand for steel as "buoyant."

"We are well positioned to capture growth opportunities which will permit us to increase shipments from our existing operations by some 23 million tonnes (25 million tons) by 2012," he said.

ArcelorMittal -- currently being formed as Mittal Steel Co. NV takes over rival Arcelor SA -- already controls around 10 percent of global steel output. It plans to complete the merger by the end of this year but is already operating as one company from its Luxembourg base.

It said the extra shipments will come from organic growth, including its December 2006 purchase of Mexico's Sicartsa for $1.4 billion. The figure excludes U.S. and European steel plants it has had to sell to win antitrust approval for Mittal's takeover of Arcelor.

ArcelorMittal also announced it would expand its Czech operations by spending $18 million to build a new facility in Ostrava which will open in mid-2008. Augmenting operations will help meet growing demand for quality steel sheets in the country and neighboring Slovakia, Hungary and southeastern Germany -- a major car making region, the company said.

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