At the beginning of 1996, MiddleSex entered into a trading agreement with OEMK, one of the most modern and profitable steel mills in Russia, for the export of up to US$300m of steel products per annum. As trading was unfolding successfully, MiddleSex acquired a 7.9% interest in OEMK. Additionally, its 40 % owned investment vehicle, Interfin, holds another 6.6% of OEMK, which gives MiddleSex a further 2.6% indirect interest. In august 1996, MiddleSex acquired DRI (IOM) Ltd. whose sole asset was the exclusive rights to export 40,000 metric tons per month (of thermally passivated direct reduced iron (DRI) pellets produced by OEMK. Direct iron reduction technology is becoming increasingly popular as it significantly improves composition, reduces impurity contents and consequently enhances steel quality. DRI pellets are used as replacement for scrap material n modern electric arc furnace steel mills. Hence, in addition to steel products, MiddleSex also controls the exports of OEMK’s DRI pellets. DRI trading is carried out through MiddleSex’s 100% owned subsidiary, Oskmet (DRI) Limited. In late 1996, MiddleSex acquired WolffSteel Ltd., an established international steel trading business, with a world-wide distribution network of clients. As a result, MiddleSex currently records steel profits from three sources : OEMK export contacts, DRI exports contacts and additional WolffSteel trading : Company Gross Profit (£’000) 1996 1997 1998 (est) 1999 (est) OEMK export 3697 6000 8250 8750 Oskmet (DRI) 96 1027 1024 11027 Wolff Steel 242 1200 1200 1200 Total 4035 8227 10,477 10977 The OEMK-MiddleSex relationship extends beyond the trading agreement. MiddleSex monitors the day to day running of the mill, the company’s management spends considerable time at the mill while two OEMK representatives monitor steel trading in London on permanent basis. In addition, OEMK has a 20 % interest in MiddleSex’s financial services arm, Interfin. Overall, according to what I have observed, I believe that this relationship is very strong. Due to increasing environmental concerns and the subsequent growth of the electric arc furnace (EAF) steel-making facilities, direct iron reduction technology is becoming more attractive. Originally, all DRI exports from OEMK were handled by DRI (IOM) Ltd. In August 1996 MiddleSex bought 100% of DRI Ltd. For a maximum consideration of 2.8m and inherited a ten year exclusive world wide distribution. DRI EXPORTS BY REGION (‘000 metric tonnes) Region 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 (Est) European Union 218.0 296.7 221.1 161.4 225.0 215.0 CIS – 52.1 96.3 68.8 72.5 95.0 USA 5.0 – – 37.1 42.5 57.5 Australia 33.0 26.0 0.4 44.3 28.5 35.0 Total 331.0 402.1 429.2 367.1 453.5 477.5 Since it gained the control over DRI exports, MiddleSex has managed to significantly expand the company’s customer base. Currently, OEMK’s DRI pellets feed steel mills in USA, Spain, Germany, Italy and Mexico. According to my observation I believe that a vertical integration of MiddleSex’s steel activities is possible and would be highly beneficial for both partners. Assuming that MiddleSex takes an equity interest in Lebedinsky GOK, the raw material supplier (such as iron ore), and increases its equity interest in OEM
Steel . The flagship operation.
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