CHICAGO U.S. Steel Corp. has moved customer service for its Canadian operations back to Hamilton, Ontario, from Pittsburgh, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker made the change in recent months after previously centralizing customer support for its Canadian facilities at company headquarters in the United States following the 2007 acquisition of the former Stelco, market sources said.
"As part of its ongoing Carnegie Way initiatives, U.S. Steel has been actively reviewing the performance and long-term viability of all of its operations worldwide, including U.S. Steel Canada. That effort is ongoing," a company spokeswoman told AMM via e-mail July 16.
The "Carnegie Way" is part of a thorough review of U.S. Steel operations as it looks to achieve sustainable profits. The company said the push will leave no "sacred cows" above scrutiny (amm.com, May 2).
The move represents a push by U.S. Steel to be closer to its Canadian customers and the markets they serve, some sources said, noting that the company also has brought in new managers for it Canadian operations, several with experience at the former Stelco.
However, others interpreted the same developments as steps U.S. Steel may be taking toward a potential restructuring of its Canadian operations, which they said might be in the works as U.S. Steel grows increasingly frustrated with losses at its Canadian operations as well as with labor difficulties and political turmoil.
United Steelworkers union Local 1005, which represents workers at U.S. Steels facilities in Hamilton, has said the steelmaker is considering a restructuring but declined to provide details on potential changes (amm.com, July 11).
U.S. Steel acquired Stelco in 2007 for $1.2 billion and also refinanced about $750 million of existing Stelco debt through a combination of cash on hand and borrowings, according to the companys website.
The steelmaker has since slogged through strikes and lockouts at both facilities as well as a push by the former Lakeside Steel to see U.S. Steel Canada nationalized (amm.com, May 12, 2009).
U.S. Steels two Canadian operationsHamilton Works in Hamilton and Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontarioemploy about 2,000 people and have the capacity to produce about 2.6 million tons of steel per year, according to the companys website.