Tata sees slow recovery at Corus

Tata Steel, the world's eighth-largest producer of the alloy, sees a slow recovery at its European unit Corus as the Western economies limp out of a recession, a senior official said yesterday.

Corus, Europe's second- biggest steelmaker, announced in December plans to close sites in northeast England and a further 1,700 job losses, having already cut 4,500 British jobs earlier

in 2009. "The pace of recovery in western Europe and the US is much slower than in China and India," Koushik Chatterjee, Chief Financial Officer of the group firm, told television channel ET Now.

"There has been a recovery from what it was 9-10 months ago, but the recovery rate is much slower than in Asian economies and I think that's how it will pan out over the year," he added.

On Tuesday, Tata Steel said sales from its Indian operations, which account for a quarter of the group's global capacity, rose 73 per cent in December, and overall sales for the December quarter rose 49 per cent to 1.60 million tonnes.

By comparison, Corus has struggled as the global downturn has hit demand from key sectors such as construction and automakers and is operating at about 80 per cent of its capacity in Europe.

Chatterjee expects utilisation levels to improve only after demand picks up in the next fiscal year.

"Going forward, from April onwards we would like to see demand coming back slowly," he said. Chatterjee expects steel prices to remain stable on robust demand and as mills await annual price negotiation with miners.

Meanwhile, the Indian steel industry has been on a roll in 2009 with major producers like Tata Steel, JSW Steel and Rourkela Steel Plant registering a surge in both production and sales.

According to a report in Financial Express, Tata Steel for the first time, surpassed its monthly crude steel production mark of 600,000 tonnes in December 2009, increasing its overall production to 7.2 million tonne per annum. During the third quarter, Tata Steel registered a 49 per cent growth in sales over the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, India's third-largest steel manufacturer JSW Steel also saw its crude steel output soaring 88 per cent in the third and fourth quarters of 2009.

 

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