BUENOS AIRES, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Argentina is looking actively at Latin America's expanding steel market, fueled by a consumer boom and new construction across the continent, after Argentine-Italian Techint Group bought into Brazilian steelmaker Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A.
Brazil itself is a burgeoning market for steel, as the country prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics, but Techint's move into the Brazil company also gives it a strategic position the group hopes to use to expand sales throughout the region.
The Techint Group agreed to pay $2.7 billion for a 27.7 percent stake in Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais -- a strategic investment giving the group increased access to Brazil's market for steel, the largest in Latin America, plus new business growth in neighboring countries.
Chile is in the throes of a major construction boom, part of it reconstruction after last year's earthquakes and tsunami, and even smaller Latin American nations are seeing growth in steel demand as increases commodity export earnings stimulate their economies. A consumer boom has boosted demand for steel.
Techint will be using its Ternium S.A. and Tenaris S.A. units to acquire the assets from Camargo Correa S.A., Grupo Votorantim and Usiminas's workers pension fund, a Ternium statement said.
Ternium is the second-largest steelmaker in Latin America and Tenaris is the world's biggest maker of seamless pipes. As a result of the deal, both hope to acquire greater access to the Brazilian market for flat steel used in cars and home appliances.
Ternium and Tenaris plan to the purchase with cash on hand and debt, the statement said.
The acquisition is timely for Usiminas, which has come under pressure from the continued appreciation of the Brazilian real. That economic twist threatens to make Brazilian exports less competitive amid intense global competition in the marketplace.
Usiminas, which has headquarters in Belo Horizonte, was established in 1958 after the country agreed to create a joint venture with Japanese investors.
Grupo Votorantim says it is looking elsewhere for its core business, including cement, other metals, pulp and orange juice.
Techint, controlled by the Italian-Argentine Rocca family through its Luxembourg holding company San Faustin N.V., is a conglomerate founded in Milan in 1945 by Italian industrialist Agostino Rocca.
Techint comprises more than 100 companies operating worldwide in a range of activities other than steel, including oil and gas, construction and engineering, oil and gas. In Argentina, Techint was involved with laying underground cables for Telecom Argentina, plus other business operations.