STEEL NEWS ROUND-UP: British Steel chief resigns, FN Steel agrees deal with Ovako, ArcelorMittal jv with Sail a step closer

With resignations, acquisitions and co-operation agreements, the last few weeks of 2017 were unusually busy for many European steel companies. Metal Bulletin brings together some of the more important stories from the festive period.

British Steel chief resigns
British Steel has started 2018 without a permanent chief executive officer, after the resignation of Peter Bernscher on December 22.

“Peter Bernscher has resigned... due to differences in perspective and direction. Peter has stepped down from the board with immediate effect and will leave the company on 31 December 2017,” according to a statement issued by British Steel.

Current chairman Roland Junck will act as the company’s CEO on an interim basis.

A former ceo of Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine’s automotive components business, Bernscher was only appointed to the post in February 2017.

FN Steel agreement with Ovako
British Steel’s Dutch long steel subsidiary FN Steel has signed a supply agreement with Swedish steel producer Ovako.

According to the agreement, Ovako will ship 15,000 tonnes of steel to FN Steel, which was acquired by British Steel last year.

Ovako and FN Steel hope that by working together they can improve their performance in the steel bearing wire rod market segment.

“The quality of our steel, coupled with FN Steel’s wire rolling and drawing expertise, will ensure that our end customers receive the premium products they require,” Ovako CEO Marcus Hedblom said.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic mesh-quality wire rod in Northern Europe nudged up €20 per tonne to €540-545 ($648-654) per tonne delivered on Wednesday December 20 amid high scrap costs.

British Steel increased its prices for both sections and wire rod in December due to a rise in raw materials costs and high demand.

Sail, ArcelorMittal joint venture
The Steel Authority of India (Sail) is closing in on signing an agreement with ArcelorMittal to launch an automotive joint venture, India’s minister of state for steel, Vishnu Deo Sai, said on Wednesday December 27.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2015 but progress had been hampered by a breakdown in talks in 2016.

Sail’s board of directors have now approved preliminary terms with ArcelorMittal for a cold rolling mill with capacity of about 1.50 million tpy along with other downstream finishing facilities in India offering steel products for the automotive sector, Deo Sai said.

Sail currently lacks the technology to make high-end automotive steel, while its largest domestic competitors - JSW Steel and Tata Steel - have already signed up to joint ventures with Japanese steelmakers to produce auto grade steel in India.

Automotive steel will be produced by the joint venture by May 2019 at the latest, an ArcelorMittal spokesman told Metal Bulletin in September 2016.

Voestalpine expands in Romania
Voestalpine’s metal forming division has acquired Romanian coating company Barum Technik based at Timisoara in southern Romania, the company said on Wednesday December 20.

Barum Technik, which coats automotive components, including seatbelt tensioner tubes, using cathodic dip-coating (CDC) and employs around 160 workers.

The unit will now operate under the name Voestalpine Rotec Coating.

This article was updated at 09:30 on January 3, 2018, to reflect that Peter Bernscher was the former ceo of Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine’s automotive components business.

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