Rebranding: OneSteel to Change Name to Arrium

By Vittorio Hernandez,

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OneSteel announced on Tuesday plans to change its name to Arrium Limited in a bid to bring in new investors and clarify the extent of its business.

The company explained that its old name indicates its line is limited to steel production when it has expanded the past five years to include iron export and mining consumables.

Stockholders are scheduled to vote on the new name Arrium at the May 8 meeting. Chief Executive Geoff Plummer said the name was made to sound like a mining and materials business.

"The name OneSteel has in fact been an impediment in recent years in the marketing of the company," Mr Plummer said.

He explained the would-be investors, especially those overseas, are unaware that the company is actually Australia's fourth-largest iron ore exporter and the world's biggest manufacturer of consumable mining ball-bearings used in grinding mills.

OneSteel, however, is not abandoning steel production at its Whyalla blast furnace as it would be difficult to find buyers at a period when demand for steel is down and it would cost the firm money to shutter it. For the first six months of financial year 2011-12, Whyalla lost $75 million from its steelmaking business based on revenue of $1.26 billion.

In contrast, OneSteel's iron ore export brought in $170.7 million to total earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $161.8 million from revenue of $421 million, while the consumables business contributed $65 million of EBIT from revenue of $708 million.

However, Mr Plummer is confident that its steel business could still make a valuable contribution as a cash generator in the future.

With the reduction of steel making's contribution, its share in OneSteel's asset value has decreased to just 47 per cent from 97 per cent in 2007, while that of mining consumable grew to 28 per cent and mining 16 per cent.

OneSteel's largest shareholder, AXA, backed the name change, although it has reduced its holdings to 5.92 per cent in February from 7.35 per cent.

However, only the mining and consumables division will use the name Arrium, while the steel operations will continue to use OneSteel.

The decline of the steel making industry is felt not only by OneSteel but also its main competitor, BlueScope, due to the strong Australian currency and stiff competition for Asian steelmakers.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing Commodities
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