Tokyo: Nippon Steel Corp. said on Thursday it was still in talks with Arcelor Mittal over the details of their technology-sharing agreement, which would allow the world’s largest steel maker 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 negotiating conditions for using the 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 ahostile 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 US 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 US and China.
They are considering boosting output in China to cope with surging demand from Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese car makers with plants in the region.
China’s top steel maker, Baosteel Group Corp., a unit of Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, owns 50% of the Chinese venture.
Thanks to strong demand from car makers and the ability to produce light, strong and rust-resistant steel sheets, Nippon Steel is expected to post a record profit for a fourth consecutive year to March 2008.