Ferrexpo full-year production drops marginally as demand wanes

(Reuters) - Iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo FXPO.L on Monday reported a small drop in full-year production as steel-making products faced weak demand due to sluggish global economic activity.

Ferrexpo, a Swiss-based company with assets in Ukraine, produced 10.5 million tonnes of pellets for the year ended Dec. 31 from 10.6 million tonnes a year earlier.

A bruising trade dispute with the United States has hit demand from top steel producer China, hurting prices for steel making ingredients such as iron ore pellets.

Steel demand in China is expected to fall 0.6% to 881 million tonnes in 2020, according to a Chinese government consultancy.

Ferrexpo, the third-largest pellets exporter, said sales volume for 2020 was about 10.3 million tonnes, slightly higher than 10.2 million tonnes it sold a year ago.

The company also said its net debt narrowed to $282 million at the year end from $340 million in 2018.

Ferrexpo delayed its full-year results twice last year after saying that some of the funds it donated to a Ukrainian charity, which coordinated its corporate social responsibility program, could have been misappropriated.

In October, Ferrexpo’s chief executive officer, Kostyantin Zhevago, temporarily stepped down to resolve matters related to one of his former businesses in Ukraine.

Zhevago, an Ukrainian mogul, owns a stake of more than 50% in Ferrexpo and was appointed CEO in 2008.

Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips