Chinese steel producer Baowu Steel has agreed to acquire Kunming Iron and Steel and is eyeing a similar takeover of Shandong Iron and Steel that would raise its capacity to 155mn t/yr.
The world's largest steel producer with capacity of 115mn t/yr has signed an agreement with the Yunnan provincial government to transfer a 90pc stake in Kunming Steel to it at no cost, Baowu said in a statement. The 10mn t/yr producer in Kunming city in southwest China's Yunnan province produces rebar, wire rod, hot-rolled coil, cold-rolled coil, galvanised steel and colour-coated steel sheet. It produced 7.7mn t of crude steel and 7.1mn t of pig iron in 2019.
Baowu is also in talks to acquire Shandong Steel. The addition of Shandong Steel capacity of 30mn t/yr would put Baowu in control of around 155mn t/yr of crude steel capacity, market participants said. The east China producer in Shandong province produced 27.6mn t of crude steel and 26.2mn t of pig iron in 2019.
Baowu and Shandong Steel have not commented on local media reports of their planned merger, but two contacts at Shandong Steel confirmed to Argus that it is in the works. "It is in line with Beijing's strategic development plan," one said.
China's proposed five-year roadmap for its steel industry calls for further market consolidation so that the five largest companies account for 40pc and its 10 largest companies account for 60pc of total steel output.
The roadmap is moving towards China's commitment to carbon neutrality by 2060 with targets over 2021-25 including a 100mn t/yr increase in recycled steel scrap use. The agency pushing the roadmap has said that China's crude steel output must decline in 2021 after rising to a record 1.053bn t in 2020. Markets initially shrugged off the suggestion but are now taking it more seriously with mills planning more outages and tax changes anticipated to reduce steel exports and boost scrap imports.
Baowu could possibly be aiming to reach 200mn t/yr capacity through the mergers and acquisitions, some market participants said.
Baowu was formed from the merger of Baosteel and Wisco in 2016 with capacity of 58.5mn t/yr. It acquired Maanshan Iron & Steel in eastern China's Anhui province that raised capacity to 90mn t/yr in 2019.
It took control of the 13mn t/yr Taiyuan Iron and Steel in north China's Shanxi province in August 2020 to exceed capacity of 100mn t/yr, Chongqing Steel in southwest China in September 2020, and Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes and Xinjiang Yili Steel in November 2020 to reach capacity of 115mn t/yr.
Baowu produced 96mn t of steel in 2019 to overtake Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, which produced 89.8mn t, as the world's largest steelmaker.
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