Tokyo: Nippon Steel Corp. said on 10 May it was still in talks with Arcelor Mittal over the details of their alliance pact, which would allow the world’s largest steelmaker to use Nippon’s automotive sheet technology.
Japanese broadcaster NHK aired a programme earlier this week saying Nippon Steel President Akio Mimura and Arcelor Mittal Chairman Lakshmi Mittal are in tough talks over conditions for using the sheet technology, one of Nippon’s strongest competitive points.
Mittal, which is pushing into the high-end, automotive sheet steel market in Brazil, wants to use the technology globally, while Nippon Steel wants to impose regional restrictions, NHK said.
Nippon Steel, the biggest beneficiary of strong worldwide sales of Japanese cars, last July reluctantly agreed to extend its technology-sharing agreement with Arcelor Mittal, after its ally Arcelor was bought by Mittal in a hostile bid.
“We have been in talks with Arcelor Mittal on how to cooperate, including what to do with our joint ventures in China and in the United States, since last July,” a Nippon Steel spokesman said. He declined to comment on details of the talks or on the NHK programme.
Nippon Steel and Arcelor Mittal operate joint ventures for car sheet production in the United States and China. They are considering boosting output in China to cope with surging demand from Toyota Motor Corp and other Japanese carmakers with plants in the region.
China’s top steel maker, Baosteel Group Corp., a unit of Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, owns 50 percent of the Chinese venture.
Thanks to strong demand from carmakers and the ability to produce light, strong and rust-resistant steel sheet, Nippon Steel is expected to post a record profit for a fourth consecutive year to March 2008.