U.K. Steelmaker to Acquire American Rod Mill
On Friday, London-based Liberty House said it has reached a preliminary agreement to buy ArcelorMittal USA’s wire rod mill in Georgetown, S.C. for an undisclosed amount. ArcelorMittal permanently closed the mill in August 2015, blaming competition from unfairly traded imports.
But now, Liberty is poised to return the mill to production.
“This is a key first step for us in the USA,” Liberty House founder and executive chairman said in a statement.
“We’re keen to apply the same low-carbon GREENSTEEL vision here as we are doing in the U.K. Acquiring the plant at Georgetown, with its ability to recycle scrap steel in an arc furnace, gives us a strong platform from which to launch our strategy in the USA. We’re confident that, with the right support from the community and authorities, we can make Georgetown and other US steel plants competitive, profitable and sustainable.”
For its money, Liberty will be getting an electric arc furnace capable of producing 600,000 tons annually and a wire rod mill that can make 750,000 tons annually. ArcelorMittal USA president and chief executive John Brett said the deal satisfies his company’s objective of finding a buyer who could put the mill back into production.
“We have achieved our goal of identifying a purchaser with extensive steel experience and a commitment to returning this site to its steelmaking capability. We hope the community will welcome this opportunity that will preserve the facility and equipment and create good jobs with good wages,” Brett said.
Liberty House began as a metals trading firm, but has in the past few years been acquiring a variety of business and assets in production and engineering. In February, it closed on a US$127.8 million deal to acquire Tata Steel’s specialty steel business in the United Kingdom. And prior to that, it bought two affiliated Scottish plate mills from Tata through a deal facilitated by the Scottish government.
Also, Liberty in late 2015 bought out the tubemaking and advanced engineering units of Capro Industries, which fell into insolvency at the height of the steel market downturn. The acquisitions have saved scores of jobs, and Liberty said it hopes to do the same in the U.S.
“Our agreement in principle with ArcelorMittal opens the door to the eventual restoration of several hundred jobs, both directly and in the supply chain, and it gives this region’s economy a new industrial focus,” Gupta said. “We look forward to completing this agreement with ArcelorMittal and to securing the support of various stakeholders, including state government and other authorities, to help make this vision a reality.”