February 19, 2018, 8:09 am
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Steel firm readies P50B investment

SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp. has dropped plans to acquire the assets of National Steel Corp. (NSC) of Iligan City and would instead invest $1 billion in mini steel mills for its downstream products either in Batangas or Subic or both.

Roberto Cola, SteelAsia  vice president, told reporters the company has called off negotiations with various parties with stakes in NSC after they failed to agree on the terms of the acquisition.

Cola said SteelAsia will announce next month the chosen location as well as the partner/s for the two mini mills.

Both mills are equipped with electric arc furnaces, one for blooms and beam blanks for the production of sections and the other for slabs for the production of plates.

SteelAsia will be investing on its own for the third mill, similarly an EAF for billets that would produce rebars and wire rods.

Cola said this mill would add 1.8 million metric tons (MT) of billets to its existing capacity 500,000 MT it currently thus tripling its current capacity.

Cola said the company is in discussions with potential partners, one an Italian company and the other a Japanese company for the two proposed mills. Representatives  of the company will be in the country next week for an ocular of the proposed sites.

Cola said SteelAsia will form joint ventures with these partners where the foreign companies will own 40 percent.

According to Cola, NSC’s infrastructure facilities such as the port could have been ideal but the 

He said  the local government of Iligan City had demanded P4 billion in back taxes. NSC also owes P800 million in electric bills. It also demanded to become part owner of the new still mill.

Cola said SteelAsia also sat down with the current owners Indian firm Ispat Industries as well as the creditor-banks and the receiver, Danilo Concepcion.

SteelAsia had planned to use the infrastructure and build a new mill in the property where the now-junked NSC steel mill is located.

“We would use the land and pay corresponding rent. We wanted an industrial land that has already been set up because conversion takes a long time, ” Cola said.

“What we wanted was reasonable amount of back taxes that is not inflationary… The negotiations would have taken years and would have been tedious. So we decided to just drop the plan,” Cola said.

SteelAsia,  the largest reinforced steel bar maker in Southeast Asia and the Philippines,  made the formal offer to acquire NSC early this year  and convert it into a state-of-the-art steel manufacturing complex . It could have been its seventh steelworks.  

SteelAsia’s six steelworks, located in key growth regions throughout the country, are all operating at full capacity.
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