Feb. 7 -- US SteelCorp reported an improvement in market conditions for steel products, including tinplate at a recent briefing. Meanwhile The Serbian government announced that it had agreed to acquire USS's loss-making Serbian operation for a nominal fee.
Nearly every major flat-rolled steel market is showing signs of improvement this year, Metal Bulletin reported USS chairman and chief executive officer John Surma saying during a conference call following the company's year-end earnings release. "Some more than others, but all positives nonetheless," Surma said, noting expected improvements in markets as diverse as automotive, industrial equipment, appliances and tin mill products. Even the construction market may finally be climbing out of its "recessionary doldrums." According to Reuters he told Wall Street analysts the company was operating at around 90% of capacity in North America to handle expected increased demand for its flat-rolled steel from many industrial sectors, especially carmakers.
Meanwhile in Europe the Serbian government has agreed to purchase USS's steelmaking operations in the country for $1, according to a government official. "We have no intention to run the Zelezara Smederevo (Serbia) steel works in the long run," Cvetkovic said, adding that the government would instead seek a partner to operate the facility, one of the largest exporters in the country. The operation employs 5,500 workers and accounts for 14% of Serbia's exports, according to the Serbian government's website. The plant has a small tinplate mill, although the main USS tin mill products unit in the region is the USS Kosice operation in Slovakia.