ArcelorMittal slumps to $8bn loss

ArcelorMittal Image copyright Getty Images

ArcelorMittal has slumped to an annual loss of almost $8bn (£5.4bn) as the world's biggest steelmaker was hit by plunging commodity prices.

The net loss included $4.8bn of writedowns, mainly in its mining division, and $1.4bn of exceptional charges in its steel operations.

The loss was more than four times worse than the $1.86bn posted for 2014.

The company plans to axe the dividend and cut costs in response.

ArcelorMittal's Amsterdam-listed shares were down 4.6% at €3.52 in afternoon trading after falling as much as 9% earlier. They have sunk more than 60% in the past 12 months.

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive, said 2015 was a very difficult year for the steel and mining industries, with steel prices falling because of excess capacity in China.

"Although we have started to see a recovery in Chinese steel spreads from 2015 lows, 2016 will be another difficult year for our industries," he said.

The crisis in the steel industry has hit the UK. Last month, Tata Steel said it was cutting more than 1,000 UK jobs, including 750 at Port Talbot, the country's biggest steelworks.

They came on top of the 1,200 jobs that went at its Scunthorpe operations last October.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tata's steel works in Scunthorpe

Sales slide

ArcelorMittal is also one of the world's largest producers of iron ore and coal.

Sales fell 20% to $63.6bn, largely because of sinking iron ore prices, even though steel shipments only fell slightly.

It produced 92.5 million tonnes of crude steel last year and 62.8 million tonnes of iron ore.

The company aims to raise $3bn in new capital and sell a minority stake in automotive engineering company Gestamp to reduce its debt.

The debt pile stood at $15.7bn, down $1.1bn, to the lowest level since the ArcelorMittal merger.

"Reducing net debt remains an important priority and given market conditions, it is prudent to take proactive steps to accelerate progress," Mr Mittal said.

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