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Bekaert to expand its Latin America presence

Bekaert reported significant changes that will see the Belgium-based company expand its presence in Central America and Latin America through investments in existing
companies, building a new plant and partnering with ArcelorMittal.

A press release said that Bekaert, a global market and technology leader in steel wire transformation and coatings, will pursue expansion plans in Central and Latin America, including the start-up of a Dramix® plant in Costa Rica; acquiring a majority position (73%) in an ArcelorMittal steel wire plant in Costa Rica; and going from a 45% minority position to outright ownership of the Cimaf ropes plant in Brazil.

Dramix, a Bekaert designed and patented steel fiber for reinforcement of concrete in industrial flooring and building projects as well as for infrastructure applications such as tunnels and mine shafts. The decision to manufacture it in Costa Rica "illustrates the strong belief in continued growth opportunities for innovative products in the construction sector in Latin and Central America," the release said. The plant will become operational in the second quarter of 2014, employing some 60 employees, it said.

The ongoing ArcelorMittal steel wire activities in Costa Rica provide the construction, agricultural fencing and industrial applications, the release said. The plant, located in Orotina (near San José), Costa Rica, it said, will be renamed BIA Alambres Costa Rica SA. BIA stands for Bekaert Ideal – ArcelorMittal). Bekaert will also attain full ownership of Cimaf Cabos, a leading South Americas steel rope producer in Saõ Paulo, Brazil, that is owned by Belgo Bekaert Arames. It will be renamed Bekaert Cimaf Cabos and be part of Bekaert's global platform. Bekaert will continue its 45/55 partnership with ArcelorMittal in eight other plants in Brazil.

The release said that Bekaert's expansions in Costa Rica will be made by Bekaert Ideal Holding, an 80/20 partnership between Bekaert and its Ecuadorian partners
represented by members of the Kohn family. ArcelorMittal will retain a 27% interest in BIA.

The news follows a previous report from Bekaert that it plans to phase out its Surrey plant in British Columbia, Canada, as part of a realignment of its steel
wire activities in North America in response to weak market conditions.

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