1-2008: 2007 Year in Review
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Year of Mill Maneuvers

M&A activity among metals producers around the globe dominated the headlines in 2007.

By Tim Triplett, Editor-in-Chief

While 2007 was another reasonably strong year for most metals producers and distributors, slumps in the automotive and housing markets took a toll. Service centers reduced inventories and grew cautious in their buying decisions amid ongoing uncertainty about the economy and metals pricing. Orders from a surprisingly resilient manufacturing sector, however, promise to sustain service center sales into the second half of 2008, when experts predict the economy will improve.

Reviewing the headlines of the past 12 months reveals that the dealmaking was fast and furious among producers, but relatively quiet among distributors. Following are notable transactions between various mills in 2007:

n ArcelorMittal expanded its lead as the world’s largest steelmaker with the $1.4 billion acquisition of Mexico’s Sicartsa, an integrated producer of long products.

n Focusing on expanding its downstream holdings and securing captive customers for its steel, Nucor Corp. purchased Canada’s Harris Steel Group, whose business units fabricate rebar, wire products and grating; LMP Steel & Wire Co., Marysville, Md., a producer of cold-finished bar and related businesses servicing the construction and OEM markets; Magnatrax Corp., Alpharetta, Ga., a provider of custom-engineered metal building systems; and Nelson Steel, New Salem, Pa., a producer of wire mesh and related products.

n IPSCO Inc., Lisle, Ill., acquired Newport, Ky.-based NS Group, making IPSCO the leading North American supplier of tubular products. Later in the year, IPSCO subsequently was purchased by Sweden’s SSAB in a $7.7 billion deal.

n A series of transactions altered the global aluminum landscape, as Russian producer Rusal merged with SUAL and Glencore International to create what the company claims is the world’s leading supplier of aluminum and alumina. Hindalco, India’s largest nonferrous metals company, acquired Atlanta-based Novelis Inc., claiming the title of world’s largest aluminum rolling company. Meanwhile, Texas Pacific Group acquired Beachwood, Ohio, aluminum producer Aleris International Inc.

n Two foreign steel producers have targeted America’s growing manufacturing base in the South. SeverCorr, a partnership between Russia’s Severstal and steel industry veteran John Correnti, began steel production at its new mill in Columbus, Miss., this year. SeverCorr’s strategy includes an innovative distribution partnership with New Process Steel and Heidtman Steel, which are setting up shop on-site with the mill. Meanwhile, the industry is keeping an eye on Germany’s ThyssenKrupp, which has announced plans to build a new carbon and stainless steel mill in Mount Vernon, Ala., scheduled to begin production in 2010.

n Another Russian company, the Evraz Group, acquired Oregon Steel Mills Inc. of Portland, Ore., creating a global player in rail, pipe and plate production.

n India’s Tata Steel made a splash in Europe when it acquired Britain’s Corus Group PLC for $8.1 billion, creating the world’s fifth-largest steel producer.

n Another Indian investor, Essar Steel Holdings Ltd., expanded in the North American market with the acquisition of Canada’s Algoma Steel Inc.

n Investors made inroads in the red metals sector, as well. KPS Capital Partners LP purchased Olin Corp., which continues to sell products under the Olin Metals, Olin Brass and Chase Brass brand names. Sun Capital Partners Inc. acquired Scott Brass Inc., an integrated mill with brass and copper strip facilities in Rhode Island and Indiana.

n United States Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, strengthened its position in the tubular market with the acquisition of Dallas-based Lone Star Technologies Inc. The transaction joined U.S. Steel’s predominantly seamless tubular business with Lone Star’s complementary welded tubular business. U.S. Steel also formed a joint venture with POSCO, Korea’s leading steel producer, and SeAH Steel Corp., a manufacturer of tubular products in Korea. The venture, called United Spiral Pipe LLC, plans to construct a 300,000-ton spiral-weld tube mill in Pittsburg, Calif. U.S. Steel also acquired Canadian steelmaker Stelco, strengthening its position in the North American flat-rolled market.

n Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., also was active in 2007, acquiring The Techs, a Pennsylvania-based flat-rolled galvanizing company. Looking toward backward integration, and securing a future source of raw material, SDI also purchased nearby scrap processor OmniSource Corp.

n In the structurals market, Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., Tampa, Fla. acquired Midlothian, Texas-based Chaparral Steel Co. Chaparral was the second largest producer of structural steel products in North America and also a major producer of steel bar.

Dealmaking on the service center side of the market continued as well, though at a less fevered pace. Following are notable mergers and acquisitions among leading metals distributors in 2007:

n Platinum Equity’s $2 billion purchase of Chicago-based Ryerson Inc. gave the California-based investment firm control of both the No. 1 and the No. 12 service center organizations in MCN’s latest Top 50 ranking. Platinum Equity already owned the PNA Group, which includes Feralloy, Delta Steel, Infra-Metals and Metals Supply Co. Combined, the two companies reported nearly $7.5 billion in sales last year. Ryerson reportedly is in the process of decentralizing and consolidating its operations.

n Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. continued to add to its extensive holdings with the acquisitions of Canada’s Encore Group, Georgia’s Industrial Metals and Surplus Inc. and Athens Steel Inc., Clayton Metals Inc. of Wood Dale, Ill., and Metalweb plc., a service center company headquartered in Birmingham, England.

n Canada’s Russel Metals Inc. extended its reach in the United States with the purchase of JMS Metals Services Inc., a full-line steel and aluminum distributor with eight facilities in the Southeast.

n Metals USA, Houston, acquired Lynch Metals Inc. of Edison, N.J., and its branch office, Lynch Metals of California, strengthening Metals USA’s foothold on both coasts.

n Atlanta-based Namasco Corp. acquired Primary Steel LLC, Middletown, Conn., whose seven branches specialize in flat steel products.

n Esmark Inc. broke new ground in 2007 as a distributor/processor by venturing into steelmaking with its acquisition of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. With a few partners, the mill-service center hybrid also hoped to acquire ArcelorMittal’s Sparrows Point, Md., mill, though at press time it was unclear whether the partnership could secure the necessary financing.

Though metals prices certainly remained at healthy levels in 2007, service centers were challenged to manage their inventories in a declining price environment. According to various industry sources, prices for hot-rolled steel began 2007 around $510 per ton, rose to a peak around $580 in April, and spent the second half of the year in the $530 to $540 range. Though well below last summer’s peak around $650 per ton, steel prices stayed well above historical averages. Aluminum’s price on the LME peaked around $1.34 per pound in January, sliding throughout the year to about $1.08 per pound in mid-December. On the Comex, copper peaked around $3.75 per pound in May, but gradually declined in the second half to around $3.00.

Concern about the downward price trend and uncertainty about the economy made service centers very cautious in their purchasing. U.S. service center steel inventories in November were the lowest since November 1997, according to the Metals Service Center Institute. Service centers were also reluctant to restock aluminum inventories, which were down nearly 30 percent compared to last November.

MSCI and other industry groups continued to protest Chinese trade practices in 2007, calling for new legislation to protect domestic companies from unfairly dumped and subsidized imports. Their cries were muted a bit, however, by the highly publicized backlash against unsafe products from China, such as food and toys. With the help of the weak U.S. dollar, American manufacturers also were able to increase their exports to Asia, Europe and other parts of the world. Despite the ongoing globalization of steel production, trade disputes with China will no doubt continue to make headlines in 2008.

A Look Back at 2007

Highlights of industry news events of the past year:

First Quarter

January

n Harbinger Capital Partners, upset with the performance of Ryerson’s existing board and management, nominated a new slate of directors in an attempt to take over the board and change the direction of the Chicago-based service center giant. Harbinger was ultimately unsuccessful and sold its shares in the company, which later in the year was purchased by another investment firm, Platinum Equity.

n Continuing its acquisition strategy, Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. purchased Canada’s Encore Group of service centers, and Industrial Metals and Surplus Inc. of Atlanta, along with related company Athens Steel Inc. of Athens, Ga.

n Samuel, Son & Co. Limited, Mississauga, Ont., acquired Engineered Metals Group from ESCO Corp., Portland, Ore. EMG is a distributor of stainless steel with facilities in Los Angeles, Portland, Denver and Hayward, Calif.

n Alro Metals of Jackson, Miss., acquired St. Petersburg Steel Corp. in Clearwater, Fla. The company name was changed to St. Petersburg Steel Alro.

n ArcelorMittal expanded its lead as the world’s largest steelmaker with the $1.4 billion acquisition of Mexico’s Sicartsa, a fully integrated producer of long products. ArcelorMittal also entered into a 50-50 commercial joint venture with Grupo Villacero for the distribution and trading of ArcelorMittal long products in Mexico and in the southwestern U.S.

n Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C., increased its downstream holdings with the $1.07 billion purchase of Canada’s Harris Steel Group, whose business units fabricate rebar, wire products and grating.

n IPSCO Inc., Lisle, Ill., acquired Newport, Ky.-based NS Group for $1.46 billion, making IPSCO the leading North American supplier of tubular products.

n Texas Pacific Group acquired aluminum producer Aleris International Inc. for approximately $1.7 billion, plus the assumption of $1.6 billion in debt, taking the Beachwood, Ohio, company private.

n Russian aluminum producer Rusal merged with SUAL and Glencore International to create what the company claims is the world’s leading supplier of aluminum and alumina. The combined company commands an estimated 12.5 percent of the global primary aluminum market and 16 percent of worldwide alumina volumes.

n U.S. service centers—such as Ryerson, Reliance and TW Metals—continued to increase their presence in China, encouraged by multinational manufacturers seeking Western-style products and services for their Chinese affiliates. “There are tremendous opportunities in China, and everyone will be trying to capitalize on that sooner rather than later,” said one service center executive.

February

n Russia’s Severstal began partial operation of its new SeverCorr mill in Columbus, Miss. The mill is expected to produce 1.5 million tons of flat-rolled steel per year.

n India’s Tata Steel acquired Europe’s Corus Group PLC for $8.1 billion, creating the world’s fifth-largest steel producer.

n Russia’s Evraz Group acquired Oregon Steel Mills Inc., Portland, Ore for $2.3 billion, creating a global leader in rail, pipe and plate production.

n Steel shipments by U.S. service centers set a record in 2006 of 56 million tons, according to the Metals Service Center Institute. The full-year shipment total of 56 million tons was 2.4 percent higher than total shipments for 2005, and exceeded the previous annual shipping record of 55.6 million tons set in 2004.

n Steel imports hit new records in 2006. Total steel imports reached 45.3 million tons, while finished steel imports reached 35.9 million tons. The previous import records were 41.5 million tons and 34.7 million tons, respectively, set in 1998, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The primary region responsible for the high import figures was Asia.

n World crude steel output reached 1.24 billion tons in 2006, up 8.8 percent over 2005 and the highest level of crude steel production in history. The top three steel-producing countries were China at 419 million tons, Japan at 116 million tons and the United States at 98 million tons. 2006 was the third straight year crude steel output topped 1 billion tons, according to the International Iron and Steel Institute.

March

n Hindalco, India’s largest nonferrous metals company, acquired Atlanta-based Novelis Inc., producer of aluminum rolled products, for $6 billion. The combined entity claims to be the world’s largest aluminum rolling company, one of the biggest producers of primary aluminum in Asia and India’s leading copper producer.

n The U.S. Department of Justice required Mittal Steel Co. N.V. to divest its Sparrows Point, Md., facility to remedy the anticompetitive situation arising from Mittal’s $33 billion acquisition of Arcelor S.A. The Justice Department said the acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the market for tin mill products in the eastern United States. Following its failed attempt to divest Canadian mill Dofasco, Mittal had hoped to divest its Weirton Mill in West Virginia.

n Sun Capital Partners Inc. acquired Scott Brass Inc., Cranston, R.I., from the Golden family, which founded the company in 1956. Scott Brass is a fully integrated mill producing high-quality brass and copper strip with facilities in Rhode Island and Indiana.

n The Ports of Indiana handled a record $1.89 billion of cargo in 2006, a 23 percent increase over the 2005 record. Steel accounted for $955 million of the 2006 shipments, a 45 increase from 2005.

n O’Neal Steel, Birmingham, Ala., formed a new High-Performance Metals Group to coordinate the activities of its TW Metals, Aerodyne Alloys, Ferguson Metals, AIM International and Supply Dynamics business units, which serve the aerospace and other high-performance metals markets.

n Esmark Inc. formed a consortium with Russia’s Novolipetsk Steel and Switzerland-based Duferco Group to purchase the assets of Winner Steel, Sharon, Pa.

n Cargill Steel Service Centers purchased Olympic Metals in Loudon, Tenn. Olympic is a single location service center offering coil blanking and slitting.

n The U.S. trade deficit with China grew to a new high of $232.5 billion in 2006, up from $201.5 billion the previous year, the Department of Commerce reported.

n The China Currency Coalition, an affiliation of U.S. manufacturers opposed to China’s economic and monetary policies, worked to promote legislation that supports U.S. manufacturers and workers who must compete against Chinese industries that benefit from their government’s currency manipulation. Some economists estimated that China’s currency was undervalued by 40 percent, increasing the cost of U.S. exports to China, while giving Chinese producers an automatic price break on their exports to the United States.

n Shipments of copper and copper alloy products in 2006 finished 3.5 percent ahead of 2005, according to the Copper and Brass Servicenter Association, Wayne, Pa.

Second Quarter

April

n United States Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, acquired Dallas-based Lone Star Technologies Inc., maker of welded oilfield tubular goods. The transaction broadens U.S. Steel’s energy product offerings by joining U.S. Steel’s predominantly seamless tubular business with Lone Star’s complementary welded tubular business.

n Esmark Inc., acquired Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp., blending the minimill, service center, converter and finishing assets of the two companies into a steel production and distribution hybrid.

n Steel shipments from North American service centers continued to decline, while inventories, which peaked the previous fall, continued to move lower. The inventory liquidation was expected to extend through the second quarter and beyond.

n The International Iron and Steel Institute predicted 5.9 percent growth in worldwide steel demand in 2007. Such growth would represent an additional 65 million tons, taking worldwide demand to nearly 1.18 billion tons. IISI further forecast that growth would accelerate in 2008 by an additional 6.1 percent, increasing demand to 1.25 billion tons.

n World stainless steel production increased by 16.7 percent to 28.4 million tons in 2006, reported the International Stainless Steel Forum. Crude stainless steel production in Asia grew by 20.6 percent to 15.1 million tons. Asia now produces more than half of all stainless steel in the world.

May

n India’s Essar Steel Holdings Ltd., acquired Canada’s Algoma Steel Inc. for $56 per share.

n Revere Copper Products Inc., Rome, N.Y., planned the close its New Bedford, Mass., plate and sheet mill due to high energy and manufacturing costs.

n United States Steel Corp. formed a joint venture with Korea’s POSCO and SeAH Steel Corp. The venture, called United Spiral Pipe LLC, plans to construct a spiral-welded tube mill in Pittsburg, Calif.

n Stelco Inc., Hamilton, Ontario, transferred all hot-strip processing to its Lake Erie mill, which underwent a $270 million modernization and now has the capacity to produce 3.7 million tons annually.

n Atlanta-based Namasco Corp. acquired Primary Steel LLC, Middletown, Conn. Primary Steel, which has seven branches in North America, specializes in the distribution and pre-processing of flat steel products.

June

n ThyssenKrupp AG chose Mount Vernon, Ala., as the site for its new mill, which will produce both carbon and stainless steel. The $4.16 billion facility is expected to begin steel production in 2010.

n Sweden’s SSAB acquired IPSCO Inc., one of North America’s leading tubular producers, in a $7.7 billion transaction.

n Heidtman Steel Products Inc., Toledo, Ohio, planned to construct a new continuous annealing facility somewhere in the Midwest, with the capacity to handle 500,000 tons per year.

n Norman E. Gottschalk Jr., president of Marmon/Keystone Corp., was named the new chairman of the Metals Service Center Institute, succeeding Donald R. McNeeley, president and chief operating officer of Chicago Tube and Iron Company.

n Service center operators found it relatively easy to secure carriers for their steel, aluminum and copper orders, as demand for trucks softened and it became a “shipper’s market.”

Third Quarter

July

n Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., acquired The Techs, a Pennsylvania-based flat-rolled-steel galvanizing company, for $360 million. The Techs business operations consist of three facilities, GalvTech, MetalTech and NexTech, each specializing in the galvanizing of specific types of flat-rolled steels.

n Carpenter Technology Corp., Wyomissing, Pa., broke ground for a $115 million facility in Reading, Pa., to expand its premium melt capacity by 40 percent.

n Steelmaker Nucor Corp. expanded its downstream holdings with the $280 million acquisition of Magnatrax Corp. Operating through its seven fabricating plants, Magnatrax is a provider of custom-engineered metal building systems for the growing North American non-residential construction market.

n Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif., expanded the capacity of heat-treated plate production at its Trentwood, Wash., rolling mill. The $34 million follow-on investment, when coupled with $105 million of investments announced in October 2005 and August 2006, will more than double Kaiser’s previously available plate capacity.

n Pittsburgh-based Alcoa formed a soft-alloy extrusion joint venture with the Sapa Group. The joint venture involves the contribution of Alcoa’s soft-alloy extrusion business into a joint venture company, Sapa AB, which will be the world’s largest aluminum profile company. The new company is majority owned and operated by Sapa, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

n The London Metal Exchange planned to commence futures trading in steel billet in April 2008, starting with two regional contracts, one for the Near East and one for the Far East. LME officials said this marks the start of the exchange’s offering of price risk management tools to the steel industry.

n Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. acquired Clayton Metals Inc., and its service center locations in Wood Dale, Ill.; Cerritos, Calif.; High Point, N.C.; and Parsippany, N.J.

n Six U.S. producers of welded standard steel pipe filed petitions accusing China of dumping subsidized pipe imports into the United States. According to the petitioners, Chinese imports of circular standard and structural pipe increased from 10,000 tons in 2002 to 690,000 tons in 2006. Since the unfair trade began, four U.S. plants (out of 35) ceased production.

August

n ArcelorMittal agreed to sell its Sparrows Point mill to a new joint venture, satisfying antitrust regulators and clearing the way for Arcelor and Mittal to complete their merger. The joint venture includes Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. and Esmark Inc., along with Brazil’s CVRD and Ukrainian steel company Industrial Union of Donbass, plus individual investors. Later in the year ArcelorMittal canceled the transaction, though Esmark remained interested in acquiring Sparrows Point.

n Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., Tampa, Fla. acquired Midlothian, Texas-based Chaparral Steel Co. in a transaction valued at $4.22 billion. Chaparral was the second largest producer of structural steel products in North America and also a major producer of steel bar.

n Nucor Corp. acquired LMP Steel & Wire Co., Marysville, Md., for approximately $28 million. LMP is a producer of cold-finished bar and operates related businesses servicing the construction and OEM markets in North America.

n Steel Dynamics Inc. invested $75 million to increase capacity at the company’s Columbia City, Ind., facility. The project will increase production capacity for structural steel and rail to two million tons per year.

n New Process Steel is constructing a 150,000-square-foot processing and distribution facility near the SeverCorr mill in Columbus, Miss. The mill-adjacent facility will provide downstream processing for light-gauge pickled, cold-rolled and galvanized products that come directly from SeverCorr.

n Northwest Pipe Co., Portland, Ore., purchased Continental Pipe Manufacturing Co., Pleasant Grove, Utah.

n Ryerson Inc., under pressure from dissatisfied shareholders, agreed to be acquired by Platinum Equity, a leading private equity firm, in a $2.0 billion transaction that will take the service center giant private.

n Metals USA, Houston, acquired Lynch Metals Inc., Edison, N.J., and its branch office, Lynch Metals of California. The acquisition strengthens Metals USA’s footprint on both coasts.

September

n United States Steel Corp. agreed to acquire Canadian steelmaker Stelco, strengthening its position in the North American flat-rolled market. The $1.1 billion acquisition by U.S. Steel gives it an annual capacity of 33 million net tons of raw steel.

n Kaiser Aluminum planned to construct a new facility in the Midwest as part of a $91 million investment program to improve the capabilities of its rod and bar, seamless extruded and drawn tube operations. The company will also perform upgrades at three existing facilities.

n Private equity firm Woodside Capital purchased Hamilton Specialty Bar Corp., Hamilton, Ontario. Its former owner, Delaware Street Capital, had shut down the minimill in May.

n Cargill and Robinson Steel entered a joint venture to produce and distribute RPS Sheet and Plate. The venture will have an initial capacity of 200,000 tons per year of cold-reduced cut-to-length hot-rolled steel from a jointly owned 100,000-square-foot facility in Granite City, Ill.

n Plymouth Tube Co., Warrenville, Ill., acquired Trent Tube from Crucible Materials Corp. The purchase included the Trentweld plant in East Troy, Wis., and the Trent Processing Plant in Chicago.

n Samuel, Son & Co. Limited, Mississauga, Ontario, entered a joint venture agreement with Generation Metals International Ltd. of the United Kingdom. The new company, Samuel, Son & Co. (UK) Limited, will open a 23,000-square-foot facility north of Birmingham to process a range of aerospace metals.

Fourth Quarter

October

n Steelmaker Steel Dynamics Inc. acquired nearby scrap processor OmniSource Corp. in a 50-50 stock and cash transaction valued at about $1.6 billion. The combination of SDI and OmniSource creates an enterprise with $6 billion in annual revenues. Keith Busse, SDI’s chairman and chief executive officer, called the deal “a blockbuster type transaction that goes a long way toward our continued attempts to backwardly integrate the company.”

n ArcelorMittal’s internal growth plan calls for a 20 percent increase in shipments in the next five years, reaching production of 131 million tons by 2012. Growth will come largely from the company’s low-cost operations in developing markets, particularly in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the CIS.

n Nucor Corp. plans to acquire the assets of Nelson Steel, New Salem, Pa., in a $54 million cash transaction. Nelson is a producer of wire mesh and related products including wire rack decking, lightweight galvanized mesh, mine mesh and engineering mesh.

n Stainless producer Outokumpu will invest nearly $780 million over the course of three years to increase production capacity of specialty steel grades at its Avesta Works in Sweden. The investment will increase its finished products capacity from the current 250,000 tons to 650,000 tons of primarily duplex grades, starting in 2010.

n Russel Metals Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, purchased JMS Metals Services Inc., a full-line steel and aluminum distributor with eight facilities in the southeastern U.S. “The acquisition of JMS provides Russel Metals with a new geographic presence in the United States and a management team that will further grow our U.S. business, both organically and through further acquisitions,” said Bud Siegel, president and CEO.

n Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. acquired Metalweb plc., an aluminum distributor with locations in Birmingham, Manchester, London and Oxford, England.

n The Copper Development Association, Washington, D.C., was awarded funding for studies that will help substantiate the natural antimicrobial properties of copper, brass and bronze. Proving that copper kills germs holds the potential to widely expand applications for red metals in hospitals and other public places.

November

n Olin Corp. was acquired by KPS Capital Partners LP for $400 million. The metals business, which generated revenues of $2.1 billion in 2006, includes all of Olin Corp.’s operations in East Alton, Ill.; Montpelier and Bryan, Ohio; Waterbury, Conn.; and Cuba, Mo.; joint ventures in Japan and China; as well as the A.J. Oster service center business. The new owner sells products under the Olin Metals, Olin Brass and Chase Brass brand names.

n Platinum Equity wasted no time enacting changes at Ryerson Inc., replacing Chairman and CEO Neil Novich and two other executives just five days after completing its purchase of the nation’s largest service center company.

n Demand for metals in the United States and Canada softened further, and service centers continued to reduce inventories to bring supplies into better alignment with the weaker-than-expected economy and seasonal low order rates. In some cases, inventories reached five-year lows. Shipments of both steel and aluminum declined from year-ago levels in both countries, MSCI reported.

n The International Iron and Steel Institute forecasted that 2007 would end up as another strong year for the steel industry with apparent steel use rising from 1.12 billion metric tons in 2006 to nearly 1.2 billion tons in 2007, an increase of 6.8 percent. The latest projections for 2008 suggest a similar global growth rate.

December

n Azco Steel, a division of Bushwick Metals, purchased 53 acres adjacent to Nucor-Yamato in Blytheville, Ark., to open a service center. The new facility is expected to be operational by February.

n U.S. Steel is considering a $1 billion capital investment program at its Clairton Plant coke-making operation near Pittsburgh. The program, which would take place over a period of years, involves the construction of two new environmentally advanced coke batteries and a cogeneration facility.

n The stockholders of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. and the stockholders of Esmark Inc. overwhelmingly approved the combination of the two companies. The combined company conducts business under the name Esmark Inc., and its common stock will trade on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “ESMK.”

n ArcelorMittal acquired leading UK steel distribution company NSD Limited, which specializes in heavy sections and tubes. In North America, the company announced plans for a $380 million investment in Contrecouer and to restructure its production activities in Canada.

n Alexin LLC, an aluminum extrusion billet producer, announced plans to locate its first manufacturing facility in Bluffton, Ind. When fully operational in late 2008, Alexin will produce more than 210 million pounds of aluminum billet annually.




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