Covid-19 pandemic speeds up JSW Steel's US business revamp plan

Topics JSW steel | Coronavirus | Lockdown

The company will spend this year “in structurally fixing” its facilities as the pandemic has resulted in the “lowest spread US steel prices have seen in the last decade,” according to Parth Jindal, director of the US operations
The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating India’s most valuable steelmaker’s plans to overhaul its loss-making US operations.

JSW Steel outlined plans two years ago to invest $1 billion in the US to expand its global footprint. That plan was curtailed by an economic downturn and import tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, with the situation worsening with the virus outbreak.

The company will spend this year “in structurally fixing” its facilities as the pandemic has resulted in the “lowest spread US steel prices have seen in the last decade,” according to Parth Jindal, director of the US operations.

The steelmaker has idled its Ohio plant to begin upgr­ading its electric arc furnace and plans to restart production at the 1.5-million tonne facility in March. It has also shut its pipe mill in Baytown to fix equipment and plans to automate and optimise operations to cut costs. “Our plan is to reduce the losses and be extremely frugal and focus on completing these projects,” said Jindal, adding, “From next year onward, we truly believe the US operations will be well positioned to be earnings-accretive to JSW Steel.

JSW last week brought in Mark Bush as the new CEO for its US operations, replacing John Hritz, who will now focus on strategy and legal affairs. The unit of JSW Group is still locked in a fight over import tariff waivers with the US. When asked if JSW wou­ld eventually look to exit the US operations, Jindal said the company remains “very committed”, to the business.




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