Steel no longer strategic in Europe, UBS banker says

May 22, 2007

Steel is no longer strategic for Europe despite the EU having its origins as the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s, UBS banker Laurent Charbonnier told Reuters journalists in London. “Before, you know, you had the argument of defence, armours battles, whatever. That’s gone,” said Charbonnier, who is in charge of the bank’s steel, paper and packaging deals in Europe. Charbonnier said deals such as Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal’s acquisition of Luxembourg-based Arcelor could no longer be prevented on the excuse that the sector was strategic or that such a deal would result in mass job cuts such as were seen in the 1980s. “The pain is behind us,” he said. “It’s not about shutting down plants or anything like that any more. The job cuts have already happened.” Ian Christmas, the chairman of steel industry association IISI, said the sector employed only 10 percent of the people it did 20 or 30 years ago in Europe and North America and now employed about 2.5-3 million worldwide, at least half of those in China.  

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