Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Top Indian Steel Mill Gets Profit Boost for Likely Buying Spree

  • Steel prices to remain firm on lower exports from China: Rao
  • Indian demand to grow at a strong pace on government spending

JSW Steel Ltd., India’s largest producer, saw its profit more than double to a record during the third quarter, helped by buoyant steel prices and rising volumes and boosting prospects for the company looking to expand capacity by snapping up some ailing domestic mills.

JSW, in the race for at least three of the five steel assets on the block under the insolvency resolution process, is betting that India’s steel use is likely to grow at a strong pace on the back of government’s infrastructure spending and strengthening consumer demand, Joint Managing Director Seshagiri Rao said in Mumbai.

Net income jumped to 17.5 billion rupees ($274 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, from 7.3 billion rupees a year earlier, the producer said in a statement Wednesday. That compares with a forecast of 11.4 billion rupees from 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales advanced 17 percent to 178.6 billion rupees.

Global mills are looking at bumper profits as benchmark steel prices in China climbed to the highest in five years in December amid a cutback in capacity, reducing exports to the world market. Last week, South Korea’s top maker Posco posted a more than 60 percent surge in annual profit to the biggest since 2011 and Maanshan Iron & Steel Co. expects 2017 net income to jump 237 percent on year.

Declining steel exports from China have “eased the supply pressure across various global markets, lending a support to price” amid improving demand, Rao said. Global growth is also firming and is positive for the sector, he said.

In India, where the government plans to spend trillions of dollars to upgrade its infrastructure, mills are scrambling to raise capacity to meet potential demand. JSW is interested in assets of Bhushan Steel Ltd. and Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd., and will seek to partner with other investors, including JFE Holdings Inc., to bid for the assets, Chairman Sajjan Jindal said last week.

The acquisitions, coupled with a planned expansion at existing plants, would help the steelmaker inch closer to its aim of reaching a capacity of 40 million metric tons by 2030 from 18 million tons now.

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