[Canada’s Stelco] Can This 107-Year-Old Steelmaker Be Brought Back to Life? – by Kristine Owram (Bloomberg News – December 5, 2017)


Winter is coming and Stelco Holdings Inc.’s steel plant on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie is stocking up for the stormy months ahead. Iron ore from Minnesota and Appalachian coal are streaming off ships on conveyor belts toward the blast furnace and coke ovens. Behind the docks, 25-ton coils of steel are lined up for shipment, still radiating heat three days after they were produced.

After decades of crisis, a renewed sense of purpose has settled over the 107-year-old company, which just completed the first initial public offering of a North American steelmaker in seven years. The question hanging over the reinvigorated enterprise is whether Stelco is finally on the cusp of sustained profitability, or whether it will wilt in an industry dominated by global giants and cheap Asian producers.

In the pantheon of great Canadian corporate names, Stelco doesn’t exactly scream confidence. The Hamilton, Ontario-based Steel Company of Canada was once the country’s biggest producer, with a workforce of 25,000 in the 1970s.

It’s since gone through two stints in creditor protection while it struggled with operating losses, bitter labor relations, high debts and pension deficits. Its most recent owner, U.S. Steel Corp., plucked some of Stelco’s best contracts and abandoned what was left of the company in 2015.

Ahead, the winter freeze is the least of its worries as protectionist moves in the U.S. threaten to restrain its ability to expand in North America. Who in their right mind would want to take control of such a business?

For the rest of this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-05/can-this-107-year-old-steelmaker-be-brought-back-to-life