Severstal plans LSE float to finance bids

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The Independent Online

Severstal, the steel company controlled by the Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov, unveiled plans to list its shares in London yesterday, saying it wanted to raise funds to play "a leading role in global steel industry consolidation".

The listing has fuelled speculation that the Russian company may be preparing a bid for the steel producer Corus.

Mr Mordashov said Severstal, the world's sixth-largest steel producer, would use its shares as currency in future consolidation activity. Mr Mordashov wants Severstal to become "at least the No 2 player in the long term".

He declined to comment on whether Corus was on his radar, arguing that, given the largest global steel producer Arcelor-Mittal produces only about 10 per cent of the world's steel, there are plenty of potential partners for the Russian firm. It emerged this week that Tata Steel, part of the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, is considering a bid for Corus.

Anindya Mohinta, an analyst at JP Morgan, said talk of a Severstal bid for Corus seemed premature as the company should be aiming to consolidate Russian assets before looking toward western Europe.

Severstal said it would aim to list its shares in London by the end of the year, but did not detail the size of the offer. It said the listing would be "substantial". Sources said Severstal is likely to list about 10 per cent of its shares in London to raise about $1.5bn (£800m). The flotation will reduce Mr Mordashov's stake in Severstal to about 80 per cent from 90 per cent. "I believe we have to become truly public to participate in global consolidation," he said.