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ArcelorMittal South Africa eyes Macsteel windfall

Lightweight steel automobile center pillars stand on display at the ArcelorMittal research and development center in Montataire, France, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

NAIROBI • ArcelorMittal’s South African unit agreed to sell its half of steel trader and shipper Macsteel International Holdings BV to a company founded by South African steel billionaire Eric Samson, which owns the other 50%.

Macsteel Holdings Luxembourg SARL will pay US$220 million (RM880 million) for the stake, ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd said in a statement on Monday. That’s more than the Johannesburg-traded company’s market capitalisation of about US$197 million.

Samson, who made his fortune in steel and real estate assets through his Macsteel holding company, was in 2015 valued at US$1.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index. He’s valued at at least US$1 billion, according to researcher Wealth-X’s website.

AMSA, as the South African company is known, said the sale of its holding in Macsteel International will help raise cash to strengthen its balance sheet. The funds will also be used for working capital and other investments, the Vanderbijlpark-based steelmaker said in a statement.

AMSA, which is South Africa’s largest producer of the products, originally supplied most of the steel for the Macsteel joint venture, but that’s no longer the case, the company said.

“The investment is no longer considered to be a core asset for AMSA,” it said. The company has also secured approvals from lenders on its revolving finance facility for the proposed sale, which is expected to be finalised on July 1.

While global steelmakers including parent ArcelorMittal are enjoying the best market conditions in years, the South African company has been hurt by weak domestic demand, pressure from imports and volatility in the rand-dollar exchange rate. — Bloomberg