PRAGUE Oct 8 The Czech unit of the world's top
steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, will invest 1 billion
crowns ($53.2 million) in continuous-casting equipment, a move
expected to open new markets for it outside highly-competitive
Europe, its chief was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The economic downturn across Europe has hit the
heavy-industry sector as companies and governments curb
investment in equipment and infrastructure in a bid to cut debt
In an interview with the daily Hospodarske Noviny, Tapas
Rajderkar said the investment would make it possible to supply a
new type of product to oil and gas markets in the Middle East as
well as other markets that are less competitive than Europe and
where the company will be able to protect its margins.
"With our (current) type of products, demand is 50 percent
below capacity in the (eastern European) region in which we
operate," the daily quoted Rajderkar as saying.
"This investment will enable us to get out of this region
with a product where there is not such competition."
He said the company was in talks with a steel mill in Saudi
Arabia which has a capacity of 600,000 tonnes a year and to
which it plans to supply its new product as part of a joint
venture ArcelorMittal Jubail Tubular Products.
It hopes to deliver 3 million tonnes of material over the
next 7-10 years, Rajderkar added.
($1 = 18.7930 Czech crowns)
(Reporting by Jana Mlcochova; Editing by Mark Potter)