(Bloomberg) -- After years of trimming assets to tame debt, Brazilian steelmaking group CSN is embarking on an aggressive international expansion.
Controlled by the billionaire Steinbruch clan, CSN has budgeted $3 billion to grow in the U.S. and Europe over the next three years in a bid to diversify its Brazil-heavy portfolio.
The Sao Paulo-based company’s strategy is coming full circle. After a period of acquisitions swelled debt, CSN shed assets in recent years, such as its Indiana operations to Steel Dynamics Inc. Now the company is “back in the game,” with a strengthened balance sheet and record earnings, said Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Steinbruch.
“We want to take advantage of our low leverage moment to diversify,” he told investors Wednesday.
The plan includes a plant to produce galvanized flat products and another mini mill for long products in the U.S., decisions on which are expected to be made next quarter. CSN is looking to tap a tight U.S. market and opportunities from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure program.
In Portugal and Germany, where CSN already operates, the goal is to double capacity. Brazil -- which presents tax, labor and currency challenges -- accounts for 85-90% of CSN’s business, the CEO said.
Still, in this growth cycle CSN will stay disciplined as it continues to chase an investment-grade credit rating. Steinbruch ruled out overseas M&A for now due to “prohibitive asset prices.” Cia. Siderurgica Nacional SA, as the company is known formally, plans to tap the equity market to finance about 30% of the internationalization plan.
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