The West

Bluescope s loss widens to $530m
Bluescope's loss widens to $530m

Australia's largest steelmaker, Bluescope Steel, has reported a $530 million first-half net loss for the six months to December 31.

The result is nearly 10 times larger than the $55 million loss for the same period last year.

It included significant one-off restructuring costs of $260 million, impairment of deferred tax assets ($184 million) and income advanced under the Federal Government's Steel Transformation Plan ($46 million), the company said.

BlueScope Steel managing director Paul O'Malley said the company was on track to deliver a full-year working capital release of $400 million to $500 million and had initiatives for further debt reduction.

BlueScope sacked more than 1000 workers in the latter part of 2011 when it closed some of its Australian operations because of difficult trading conditions.

Mr O'Malley flagged a lower underlying net loss for the second half.

Sales revenue was $4.53 billion, compared to $4.6 billion for the prior corresponding period, hurt by the strong Australian dollar and lower steel volumes.

The company produced 2.66 billion metric tonnes of raw steel, compared to 3.45bt for the pcp.

At the end of the first half, net debt was $796 million, a reduction of $759 million since October 31, including a working capital reduction of $357 million, Mr O'Malley said.

The current total cost of the Australian restructure, which has included closing one of its two blast furnaces, was still in the range of $430 million to $450 million, of which $350 million-$370 million is expected to be paid in FY2012.

"The operational restructure, with associated plant closures in Australia, significantly reduces our exposure to the loss-making export market," he said.

"This is a positive step in turning around the performance of the Australian business and lays the foundation for a return to profitability."

The West Australian

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