(Updates with CEO comments)
By Alberto Alerigi and Marcelo Rochabrun
SAO PAULO, May 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional said on Thursday it is still in talks for a $500 million iron ore streaming deal and is close to reaching an agreement to sell its German unit.
In a conference call with analysts, Chief Executive Benjamin Steinbruch said he is pushing for the right price to sell the German unit, which is key to hitting a debt reduction target by the end of the year.
Steinbrunch also pledged better results in the next quarter, after CSN announced late on Wednesday that quarterly profit plunged to 87 million reais ($22 million), from 1.5 billion reais a year earlier.
CSN shares were down 0.6 percent in Thursday afternoon trading.
Steinbruch said he expects to raise steel prices by 10 percent during the second quarter to improve results and reduce leverage by the end of the year. Executives said steel production costs would keep rising.
Despite weaker first-quarter results, Steinbruch said CSN was sticking with a plan to cut its ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from four at the end of March to three in December.
The sale of the German unit will help to achieve that goal. Steinbruch said talks are advanced, but there is still no agreement on price.
“We’ll sell if we reach the price we want”, he added.
The company, which has been negotiating an iron ore streaming deal for some months, expects the deal to be closed this year but did not give any additional details.
$1 = 3.9406 reais Reporting by Alberto Alerigi and Marcelo Rochabrun; writing by Tatiana Bautzer; editing by Brad Haynes, Rosalba O'Brien and