ArcelorMittal drops as Kazakh nationalisation looms after fire

30th October 2023 By: Bloomberg

ArcelorMittal shares fell 5% after the Kazakh government announced plans to take over the company’s operations in the country following its worst mining accident in recent history.

At least 45 workers were killed in an underground coal mine fire at the Kostenko facility that began on Saturday, according to media reports citing Kazakhstan’s emergency ministry. Following the disaster, the country’s government said it had reached a preliminary agreement with the shareholders of the local unit. ArcelorMittal confirmed that agreement.

It’s unclear whether Kazakhstan plans to pay ArcelorMittal for its assets there, which include a two steel plants, coal and iron ore mines. Those operations have been hit by a series of deadly accidents since the firm acquired them in the mid-1990s.

The tragedy adds to the woes of the steelmaker whose shares are down about 18% this year amid weak demand in key markets. Production at its giant Ukrainian plant, which is close to the frontline of the war with Russia, has also been repeatedly disrupted.

Kazakhstan accounted for about 5% of ArcelorMittal’s steel production last year. The Luxembourg-headquartered company is the world’s biggest steelmaker outside of China.