The nation’s five leading steelmakers plan to spend 455 billion yen on plants and equipment in fiscal 2001, a 41.6 percent increase over the previous year, according to their capital spending plans released Thursday.

The figures reflect their intention to increase outlays on power generating facilities in an effort to cash in on the deregulation of the domestic power supply market.

Despite these proposed increases, however, the planned spending for fiscal 2001 is still only half that posted in the peak year of fiscal 1992.

Industry leader Nippon Steel Corp. plans to invest 170 billion yen, up 25.9 percent over the previous year. This total includes 50 billion yen for investment in power generation facilities at its ironworks in Muroran, Hokkaido, and in Oita Prefecture.

Steelmakers are currently zeroing in on the retail electric power market, which has been deregulated for large-lot industrial and commercial users to lower high power costs.

Other than investment in power generation facilities, the five steelmakers are continuing to curb their spending.

Overall spending planned by NKK Corp. stands at 53 billion yen, up 20.5 percent, while Kawasaki Steel Corp. intends to boost its spending by 73.8 percent to 73 billion yen.

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. has set aside capital outlays totaling 55 billion yen, up 23.9 percent, while Kobe Steel Ltd. has set aside 104 billion yen, up 85.7 percent.

Spending by Kobe Steel will increase sharply as investment in power generation facilities at its ironworks in Kobe peaks in fiscal 2001.

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