NEW YORK, April 15, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Deals in the global metals industry in North America soared to record levels in 2007, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, indicating that the credit crisis in the U.S. has not hindered industry growth. The report titled: Forging Ahead: Mergers and Acquisitions Activity in the Global Metals Industry, reveals that 115 deals, totaling $77 billion in value, took place last year in North America. This accounts for 53 percent of total deal value in the global metals industry during 2007 and nearly matches the entire global metals industry deal value for 2006 ($86 billion).

The majority of deals took place in the steel industry, with North American companies serving as targets for three of the top six deals in the steel sector. This contrasts deal-making in the rest of the world, which saw dynamic shifts of focus in 2007 -- from steel to aluminum and away from Western Europe to North America.

"Industry consolidation and the declining value of the dollar will continue to make the U.S. an attractive region for steelmakers from emerging and industrialized markets alike," said Douglas Dean, U.S. metals leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers. "It does not appear that steel consumption will not taper off anytime soon, and, in North America specifically, consumption is likely to outpace production over the next couple of years."

Several steelmakers based in emerging economies acquired North American producers during 2007, both as a way of moving up the value chain and also to obtain greater access to the U.S. market. In return, some North American producers bought smaller competitors as a means for reducing overcapacity and expanding their product offerings.

North America's aluminum market was particularly valuable in 2007, with 18 deals totaling $46.7 billion. In contrast, the steel sector accounted for a great number of deals (71) but accumulated less total deal value than the aluminum sector, at $30 billion. In addition, 26 deals closed in the base metals industry, accounting for $300 million in North American deals last year.

While deal-making in the global metals industry soared to unprecedented levels during 2007, the sector was not completely unaffected by the credit crisis. Historically, financial buyers account for a significant portion of the total deal value of transactions (20 percent in 2006); however, they only accounted for four percent in 2007. According to the report, the fallout from the credit crunch has been particularly evident in the steel sector, where financial buyers only accounted for $3.9 billion of deal value in 2007 compared to $14.2 billion in 2006.

"With increased uncertainty in the financial environment, financial buyers are acting more cautiously than ever before proposing deals in the metals industry," said Jim Forbes, global metals leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers. "With continued strong metal prices and demand, corporate buyers will help drive and support the booming global M&A metals market over the next few years."

About the Report

Forging Ahead: Mergers and Acquisitions Activity in the Global Metals Industry references several specific deals and companies that were active in transactions within the global metals industry over the past two years. The report also includes the perspectives of 26 CEOs from the metals industry on their optimism in the industry, as reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers 11th Annual Global CEO Survey. For more information and to access the full report, visit: www.pwc.com/metals.

Methodology: The report provides an analysis of domestic and cross-border deal activity in the global metals industry (with the exception of mining transactions unrelated to the production of steel and aluminum). It is based on data from Thomson Financial (supplemented by company reports, where necessary), and covers all mergers and acquisitions completed in 2006 and 2007. Any minor discrepancies between the figures published here and those recorded in last year's edition of Forging Ahead are attributable to the difference in the data sources used or to variations between the preliminary and final value of certain deals, where due diligence or other circumstances have provided grounds for changing the price. The analysis encompasses announced deals for which values have been disclosed.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers

PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 146,000 people in 150 countries across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.

"PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Metals Practice

PricewaterhouseCoopers global metals practice comprises a global network of industry professionals serving metals clients strategically located in over 30 countries around the world. PricewaterhouseCoopers services global clients involved in ferrous and non-ferrous primary and secondary metals production around the world by bringing experience, international industry best practices and a wealth of specialized resources to help solve business issues.

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