(Updates with shares in seventh paragraph.)
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Baosteel Group Corp., China’s second-biggest steelmaker, is in talks to buy a stake in a steel unit of Malaysia’s Lion Group for about $1 billion, said two people with knowledge of the matter.
The size of the holding in Amsteel Mills Bhd. to be sold has yet to be determined, one of the people said, declining to be identified because the negotiations are private.
Chinese steel mills, the world’s biggest producers, need to target foreign markets to boost sales because of domestic oversupply. Malaysia’s economy may expand 5 percent to 6 percent this year after growing 7.2 percent in 2010, its central bank estimates.
“South-east Asian countries have a good projection of steel demand as economies grow and not much steel capacity,” said Xu Xiangchun, chief analyst with researcher Mysteel.com.
Annual steel production capacity in Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, may rise to 64 million metric tons by 2015 from 25 million tons in 2009, Xu said.
Meng Haibiao, a media relations official at Baosteel, declined to comment. Lion Group Chairman William Cheng wasn’t immediately available when phoned at his office in Kuala Lumpur today.
Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., the publicly traded unit of Baosteel, fell 0.5 percent to close at 5.86 yuan today in Shanghai trading. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent.
Shares of companies controlled by Lion Group rose in Kuala Lumpur trading today. Lion Industries Corp., which owns Amsteel Mills, jumped 15 percent to 1.87 ringgit at the close, its biggest gain since November 2008. Lion Corp., the single-biggest shareholder of Lion Industries, surged 20 percent to 30 sen.
Amsteel operates two steel plants in Selangor, using electric arc furnaces and other facilities to make the alloy used in construction, automotive parts and machinery, according to Lion Group’s website.
Baosteel, supplier of half the sheets used by carmakers in China, will consider building plants in developing regions outside the country, Chairman Xu Lejiang said in March. The Chinese government is encouraging a shift of surplus steel production capacity overseas, Wuhan Iron & Steel Group General Manager Deng Qilin said the same month.
Steel demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the alloy, may rise by as much as a quarter by 2015 compared with last year, according to a May projection from the China Iron & Steel Association, which represents producers.
--With assistance from Helen Yuan in Shanghai. Editors: Rebecca Keenan, Ryan Woo
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