ArcelorMittal sees no further capacity cuts in Europe

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Reuters – Steelmaker ArcelorMittal said it had no plans to cut capacity further in Europe even though cheap imports are expected to depress prices further this year.

"Absolutely not," the head of ArcelorMittal's German operations, Frank Schulz, told Reuters on Monday when asked if further cuts were planned in Europe. "We have done our homework. We have adjusted our capacity."

ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, shut down blast furnaces in Belgium and idled others in France and Germany after the 2008 financial crisis, since when demand has not yet fully recovered.

Production capacity may still exceed demand in Europe by up to 30 percent, ArcelorMittal said in its 2014 annual report.

The company said 19 of its 25 European furnaces were currently in operation, and Schulz said there were no plans to mothball or idle any of those, except for possible repairs.

Steel demand is expected to rise by almost 2 percent in Europe this year, as the construction and automobile sectors begin to recover.

But a glut of exports from China, where growth is slowing, and from Russia due to a dive in the value of the rouble, means prices will continue to fall.

ArcelorMittal's Schulz was speaking to Reuters on the fringes of a company event in Cologne, where it announced it planned to invest 88 million euros ($93 million) to modernise four German plants this year. ($1 = 0.9430 euros)