ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) has announced that it will sell its 15 percent stake in ArcelorMittal Mines Canada, one of its iron ore units. The deal is said to be worth $1.1 billion. If this deal falls through, it will give long-term access to iron ore to South Korea’s Posco and China Steel of Taiwan, two of the largest steel makers in the world. Another investor with a stake in the iron ore unit is the private equity fund EQ partners, according to an anonymous source cited by DealBook.
Lakshmi Mittal, the company’s CEO and controlling shareholder, has been selling off ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT)’s assets in an effort to reduce the company’s debt as it struggles in the industry’s downturn. ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT)’s steel demand has fallen to approximately 30 percent in the company’s European market. Including the sale of this iron ore unit, the company has sold off $4.2 billion in assets since September 2011.
Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service both reduced ArcelorMittal’s credit rating down to junk status because the company has such a large amount of debt, and the worsening steel industry isn’t making it any easier for the company to recover. The company’s debt was reported at $23 billion at the end of September, although an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) told DealBook that it could fall to about $20 billion this year.
Today, shares of ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) are up almost 2 percent in New York on the news, likely because the steel giant received a good price without having to sacrifice very much. Shares in the Europe markets rose almost 4 percent. One analyst cited by DealBook said the $7.3 valuation of the deal was much better than his valuation, which was closer to $4 billion.