* Asian partners could exercise put option this July
* JFE, Kobe, Posco-led group paid $3.1 bln for stake
* CSN declines to comment on Valor report on Namisa
SAO PAULO, May 21 A group of Asian steelmakers
that owns 40 percent of Brazilian iron ore producer Namisa could
exercise an option to sell their stake to majority shareholder
CSN as early as July, Valor Econômico newspaper
reported on Tuesday.
Benjamin Steinbruch, chief executive officer and the largest
shareholder in CSN, as Cia Siderúrgica Nacional SA is known,
will meet with executives of Japan's Itochu Corp, which
owns 22 percent of Namisa and the company that leads the
consortium, to discuss the situation, Valor said, without saying
how it obtained the information.
The group led by Itochu includes Japan's JFE Holdings Inc
and Kobe Steel Ltd, as well as South Korea's
Posco and Taiwan's China Steel Corp, Valor
reported. Two members that were in the original consortium that
paid $3.1 billion for the Namisa stake, Nippon Steel Corp
and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co, have exited the
partnership, the paper added.
A spokesman for CSN in São Paulo declined to comment on the
According to the article, the group wants out of Namisa
because CSN, which has a 60 percent stake in the mining company,
has delayed expansion and logistic projects that were included
in a shareholders' accord for years. With the exercising of the
put option, Steinbruch's CSN would have to pay compensation to
the Asian partners, the newspaper reported.
This highlights the many challenges facing CSN as Steinbruch
seeks to grow Brazil's largest diversified steelmaker into ore,
cement, steel and logistics through takeovers. For years, CSN
has failed to bulk up ore output capacity and instead invested
in low-return projects to gain size, even as iron ore-related
activities represent most of the company's operational profit.
Currently, CSN is in the race to buy ThyssenKrupp AG's
money-losing Steel Americas unit, Reuters reported recently,
citing people with direct knowledge of the situation. Suitors
for the asset, including CSN and a consortium of ArcelorMittal
SA and Nippon Steel, have offered north of $3 billion
for the Thyssen mills, both located in the United States and
Namisa, as Nacional de Minerios SA is known, has for years
been touted for a merger with CSN's Casa de Pedra ore mining
compound, a deal that could create the world's fourth-largest
producer of the key ingredient for steel. According to Valor,
part of the impasse with the Asian partners is the unwillingness
of CSN to ramp up output to 13 million tonnes by the end of this
Currently Namisa is producing close to 7 million tonnes
Efforts to reach representatives for Itochu, JFE, China
Steel and Posco in Brazil were unsuccessful.