Chinese Steelmakers to Merge

Tangshan Iron and Steel, already one of China's largest steel producers, will get together with two smaller firms.

Three Chinese steel companies agreed on Dec. 30 to merge, creating the country's biggest listed steel maker, in a bid to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis, state media reported.

Tangshan Iron and Steel, already one of China's largest steel producers, will get together with two smaller firms -- all three based in the northern province of Hebei, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The new group's annual production of raw steel will be about 32 million tons, overtaking that of China's largest steel company Baosteel, according to Xinhua. The three are all listed firms, and are all part of the state-owned Hebei Iron and Steel Group.

China's steel industry has suffered from the global financial crisis, and recorded a combined loss in October, the first time in six years it slipped into the red, according to earlier media reports.

"The move will enhance steel industry restructuring, which will cushion the blow as the financial crisis has hurt economic growth," Hu Yanping, an analyst with mining information website Umetal.net, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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