Corus shows its mettle

Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus overcame a difficult third quarter to record pre-tax profits of £580 million for 2005, up £13 million on the previous year.

The overall increase of 16 per cent in steel selling prices compared to 2004 offset a five per cent reduction in deliveries and the impact of higher raw materials and energy costs.

Corus also announced that it will dispose of its aluminium rolled products and extrusions businesses for £570 million to north American aluminium manufacturer Aleris International. The transaction also includes the company’s equity stakes in its Canadian and Chinese joint ventures.

The company claimed its hugely improved financial position is underpinned by a restructuring programme called ‘Restoring Success’, launched in June 2003 when Corus was at a particularly low ebb. Comprising three initiatives it aims to implement more efficient and productive processes across the group.

The group said its strategy remains focused on carbon steels, developing a strong and sustainable competitive position in western Europe and securing access to steel making in lower cost, higher growth regions.

European activity last year included investments of £130 million at Scunthorpe to strengthen the group’s position in structural sections and rail markets, and £153 million at IJmuiden in The Netherlands for its automotive and construction businesses.

The company also disposed of non-core business and surplus land to release £81million in capital last year — a net profit of £30m.

Chief executive Philippe Varin said: ‘As the year progressed and market conditions became more challenging, our performance clearly demonstrated the strong foundations laid by the ‘Restoring Success’ programme. The continual disposal of non-core assets and strengthened balance sheet provide a strong platform from which we can enter the next phase of development.’