TMK Says Shipments Rose 5%

Pipe maker TMK said its 2008 shipments rose 5 percent from 2007 thanks to the acquisition of IPSCO's U.S. assets, which were consolidated in the middle of the year.

Without the acquisition, however, shipments declined by 11 percent from 2007 as large pipeline projects were postponed and demand for industrial pipes dropped in the fourth quarter.

TMK in November cut 2009 capital expenditure fivefold to about $150 million in order to free up cash to refinance debt in response to the credit crunch.

It agreed to pay $1.2 billion for IPSCO's U.S. assets in March, and eight months later deputy general director Vladimir Shmatovich said his firm was in talks with state banks to refinance outstanding debt from the purchase.

The company did not provide a detailed outlook for the current year, though it said demand for large-diameter pipes will improve and prices for its own output will increase.

"A more advanced product mix will enable the company to improve pricing and limit its exposure to competition from low-end imported products," TMK said.

Last year it shipped 3.23 million tons of pipes, up 5 percent from 3.07 million tons in 2007.

Despite the drop in the Russian market, TMK said it increased its market share at home thanks to its diversified product mix.