* Focus on improving financial structure, core business
* Will shed non-core assets, list affiliates
* Shares fall 0.7 pct, in line with market
(Add comments from CEO, analyst, share price)
SEOUL, March 14 POSCO's new chief
executive said the South Korean steelmaker will restructure
non-steel businesses and not make any major investment in
increasing steelmaking capacity, in a marked break from the
strategy of his predecessor.
Incoming CEO Kwon Oh-joon, a former POSCO chief technology
officer, will sell non-core assets and list affiliates after a
wave of investment and acquisitions left the world's
fifth-biggest steelmaker with high debt and credit-rating
POSCO, once one of the industry's star performers, posted
its third straight year of profit decline last year as it
continued to grapple with steel oversupply and reduced customer
demand brought about by recent global economic downturn.
"POSCO's biggest task is to improve its financial
structure," Kwon said at a news briefing after starting a
three-year term as chief executive and chairman. "First of all,
we have to improve our core competitiveness in steel and
To that end, POSCO will restructure its materials and energy
businesses, and focus on lithium, nickel, fuel cells and clean
coal, Kwon said.
POSCO will also seek mergers and acquisitions in non-steel
businesses such as clean coal, and "take the bold step of
shedding non-core" operations, he said at an annual meeting of
shareholders before the briefing without specifying any units.
Subsidiary POSCO Specialty Steel in 2012 decided against
listing $424 million of shares because of tepid investor demand.
Shares of POSCO were down 0.7 percent at 0515 GMT after the
comments, similar to the 0.6 percent fall in the broader market
"Unlike his predecessor, chairman Kwon has taken a realistic
and detailed approach. If he lives up to his promise, this will
help improve POSCO's balance sheet," said Hi Investment &
Securities analyst Bang Min-jin.
The steelmaker could sell such non-core assets as a
department store owned by POSCO trading unit Daewoo
International Corp, said Bang.
POSCO, backed by billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett,
in January said it would reduce investment by 14 percent this
year as it does not see any revenue growth.
On Friday, Kwon said POSCO will continue trying to build
steel mills in India after years of delays.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Kenneth
Maxwell and Christopher Cushing)