Reborn steelmaker Stelco eyes organic, M&A growth: Reuters

Resurrected Canadian steelmaker Stelco Holdings Inc is banking on growth from ramped-up production and acquisitions, Chief Executive Alan Kestenbaum said on Friday, as the 107-year-old company completed its initial public offering.

Hamilton, Ontario-based Stelco, owned by U.S. private equity group Bedrock Industries, will use part of its $230 million (US$181 million) IPO proceeds on projects that boost capacity at its two steel-processing facilities in southern Ontario.

The listing also allows quick access to capital markets if a suitable M&A deal emerges among “numerous” potential targets, Kestenbaum said.

Stelco, which emerged in June from its second bankruptcy protection in 13 years, produces flat-rolled, value-added steels for the construction, automotive and energy industries.

“Many companies and owners today have broken balance sheets, are forced asset sellers and have operational issues. We talk to everybody,” Kestenbaum said in an interview with Reuters. “We could look at buying another steel mill, we also could look at buying other finishing operations, or things like that, that help us penetrate markets.”

Declining to identify targets or timing, Kestenbaum said “attractively priced” North American assets, with synergy benefits, are ideal.

Stelco shares began trading last week on a “when-issued” basis and quickly jumped above the $17 pricing to $19. On Friday, the stock was unchanged at $19.45.

Stelco emerged from nearly three years of bankruptcy protection with $3 billion in debt and $1.4 billion in pension and retirement obligations extinguished.

That coincides with mostly weak North American auto sales this year, after a record 2016, though global steel prices SRBcv1 have gained 157 percent since end-2015 as China, the world’s top steel producer and consumer, shut capacity in an environmental crackdown.

Stelco, under bankruptcy protection between 2004 and 2006, was acquired in 2007 by U.S. Steel Corp.

Kestenbaum said Stelco will now operate under a “tactical flexibility” strategy, adjusting the products and industries it pursues based on margins.

While its shipments to automakers fell to 3 percent last year, from 37 percent in 2006, Stelco plans to boost production of lightweight, higher-strength steels increasingly sought by the industry.

Auto industry gains are not critical to Stelco’s growth, but offer an opportunity to boost margins, Kestenbaum said. “The auto industry wants more suppliers and they remember Stelco,” he said.

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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