New POSCO CEO to shun major steel investments, shed non-core assets

SEOUL, March 14 Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:00pm EDT

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SEOUL, March 14 (Reuters) - POSCO's new chief executive said the steelmaker will shy away from expanding manufacturing capacity for the time being, and raise cash by selling non-core assets and by listing some affiliates - a marked break with the strategy set by his predecessor.

"I will take the bold step of shedding non-core businesses," Kwon Oh-joon told an annual meeting of POSCO shareholders on his first day on the job.

"POSCO will not pursue fresh investments aimed at quantitative growth, and instead focus on downstream investments aiming at boosting value," he said in a separate statement, noting that the global steel market is suffering from serious oversupply.

His predecessor, Chung Joon-yang, who led POSCO for five years, spearheaded investments and acquisitions that left the steel giant with high debt levels, leading to a series of rating cuts by credit rating agencies.

POSCO will also restructure its materials and energy businesses, and focus on lithium, nickel, fuel cells and clean coal, said Kwon, a former POSCO chief technology officer.

POSCO, which is backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, said in January it would reduce investment by 14 percent this year as it sees flat revenue growth. It has posted three consecutive years of profit declines.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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