The Hottest Thing In Cold Steel

Can Baoshan remain China's steelmaking champ?

Success has its price. Just ask Li Ming, 69, the spirited chairman of Shanghai-based Baoshan Iron & Steel Corp. While perhaps half of China's state-owned enterprises are bleeding red ink, Baoshan boasts an efficient workforce and management, and sales of $2.85 billion. And that's exactly why the Shanghai municipal government now wants Baoshan to take charge of three money-losing steel plants that employ 130,000 workers. Li, whose lean staff of 10,500 employees produces more steel than the other three plants combined, isn't interested. "If these companies are merged," he says, Baoshan's "economic efficiency" surely would suffer.

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