BlueScope’s ‘best’ results

 BlueScope profits have jumped over the last 12 months, but they are tipped to fall in the first half of the next financial year. Picture: Sylvia Liber
BlueScope profits have jumped over the last 12 months, but they are tipped to fall in the first half of the next financial year. Picture: Sylvia Liber

BlueScope’s annual results were “the best and most important in a decade”, chairman John Bevan said.

The steel company recorded a net profit of $719 million – a 102 per cent increase on the previous financial year.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) hit $1.1 billion, up 89 per cent on last year.

Wednesday’s annual general meeting was the last for outgoing CEO Paul O’Malley, who had been in the top job for a decade and with the steelmaker for 12 years.

Mr O’Malley oversaw the controversial job cuts and wage freezes at Port Kembla in 2015, which were designed to avoid closing down the steelworks

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Mr Bevan said the company had changed a lot in Mr O’Malley’s time as CEO.

“Ten years ago the world could not supply enough steel to meet the growth in China,” Mr Bevan said.

“BlueScope focused and became dependent on its export business. As undersupply has changed to significant oversupply in the last decade, BlueScope has had to change to.

“Today the company has a much lower dependence on export-driven commodity sales, and has refocused to serve the changing needs of its domestic customers.”

Mr O’Malley said EBIT in the Australian Steel Products sector – which included Port Kembla – rose 27 per cent “following delivery of $300 million of cost reductions”.

Mr O’Malley will retire from BlueScope at the end of the year.

He will be replaced by the company’s Australia and New Zealand CEO Mark Vassella, who will start in the role on January 1

“It's been quite a journey through unprecedented economic conditions brought on by the effects of the global financial crisis and its aftermath, and the rise of the Chinese steel industry which has fundamentally altered the nature of the global steel industry,” Mr O’Malley said of his 10 years as CEO of BlueScope.

“A lasting impression will be the dedication of BlueScope people to working safely and to looking after each other, to getting the job done, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, to being innovative in finding new ways of working, and to supporting BlueScope through thick and thin.”