As the talks with ArcelorMittal to form auto-grade JV firm is getting delayed, state-owned SAIL has started talking to other global players, a top company official said. SAIL is already in talks with a few global companies which are into auto-grade steel making, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) Chairman Anil Kumar Chaudhary said.
The country's largest steel maker and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal had entered into an MoU in May 2015 to explore the possibility of setting up an auto-grade steel manufacturing facility under a joint venture in India. About two and a half years later in December 2017, the SAIL board approved the proposal to enter into a joint venture with the world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal for manufacturing high-end automotive steel.
However, definitive agreements in this regard were to be finalised in due course, subject to financial viability. "Of course, the talks with ArcelorMittal have got delayed but that is not the end, there are many other companies in the world in the auto-grade steel making. So, we are already in touch with some of the Korean companies POSCO and Hyundai Steel," the chairman told PTI while replying to question related to delay in decision.
There are some Japanese firms as well - like Nippon Steel, Kobe Steel and JFE - with whom SAIL is in talks with, he said, adding that the JV with ArcelorMittal is still on. "It (JV) is not closed. It is still on. May be they are too busy with Essar Steel Acquisition, they want to wait for some more time. When we talk to them verbally, they say we are open to discuss many more things but let first the fate of Essar Steel get decided," Chaudhary said.
Essar Steel is undergoing insolvency proceedings. The chairman further made it clear that there is no delay from SAIL's side. Even ArcelorMittal has not responded to a letter written by SAIL in February asking the former to expedite the process for signing a definitive agreement to set up a joint venture for high-end automotive steel plant, he said.
PTI had earlier reported that steel companies from South Korea and Japan have shown interest to invest in India for manufacturing value-added products. The companies had also visited SAIL and RINL plants. The steel ministry has also held several rounds of discussions to facilitate manufacturing of high-grade steel in India with the help of foreign companies especially from South Korea and Japan.
He also said: "If they scarp the JV plan, its all up to them. The world is open. We are not depended on ArcelorMittal". Billionaire L N Mittal's ArcelorMittal, Chaudhary said, is very new to India while SAIL has been operating for 60 years now. "May be ArcelorMittal the largest steel making company but they are not the only steel making company in the world," he said, adding that 'they can not get that type of material we can supply. Basically, the HR or hot rolled coil will be the input for the cold rolling mill which would be going to establish jointly. So, that kind of input can not come".
Recently, another domestic steel firm Tata Steel could not pursue its decision of forming a JV with German Steel Major ThyssenKrupp, following the response of the European Commision.