Nippon Steel Seeks Assets for Growth Outside Japan, Shindo Says

Aug 03, 2014 12:17 pm ET

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., the world’s second-biggest steelmaker, is seeking to add assets in markets outside Japan to tap growth in metal demand that’s stronger than in its home market.

Nippon Steel partnered ArcelorMittal in November to acquire a steel plant in the U.S. from ThyssenKrupp AG, and is expanding to chase swelling overseas demand, President Kosei Shindo said in an interview yesterday. The steel industry is becoming global, he said.

“It’s important to increase assets in overseas markets rather than in Japan,” Shindo said in Sao Paulo on the sidelines of a business seminar between Brazilian and Japanese companies. “We must follow the increase of steel demand in overseas markets.”

The Tokyo-based producer, formed by the merger of Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. in October 2012, said last week that profit in the June quarter fell 24 percent as steel imports from China put pressure on prices.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest producer of the metal used in ships, cars and buildings, is “an important area” for Nippon Steel, and operations at Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA, a Brazilian steelmaker that Nippon co-controls, are “precious,” Shindo said.

“We are now globalizing in every part of the world,” he said.

Shindo, Toyota Motor Corp. chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. President Koichi Miyata are among the Japanese businessmen traveling in Brazil with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he wraps up a tour encompassing six Latin American and Caribbean cities in nine days. The Japanese leader, whose policy of unprecedented monetary easing and economic stimulus has been dubbed Abenomics, is urging Japanese companies to seek more business outside their domestic market.