Steel News

Optima Specialty Steel Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

11/17/2017 - Optima Specialty Steel Inc., a U.S.-based manufacturer of special bar quality steel, cold-drawn pipe and tube and other specialty products, has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a new executive at the helm and a new name.  

In an announcement Thursday, the Hammond, Ill., company said it has been renamed Specialty Steel Works Inc. (SSWI) and has appointed Joel L. Hawthorne as chief executive. Hawthorne served as chief executive of graphite electrode maker GrafTech International Ltd. from January 2014 to January 2017.  

"The company is emerging from bankruptcy under new ownership and with a new name that signals our dedication to creating the best products and best customer and supplier relationships in the industry. As the company enters a new chapter, we are confident that the appointment of Joel Hawthorne will be another source of strength for the revitalized business," said SSWI chairman Jim Kime. 

"Joel brings experience, leadership, and the ability to support continued success in the programs and products SSWI excels in, as well as the vision and experience to incorporate changes that will enable our existing businesses to achieve their full potential. Joel has a proven track record of executing vision and strategy and inspiring people to achieve excellence through teamwork," he added. 

Specialty Steel operates four subsidiaries, Michigan Seamless Tube, Niagara LaSalle Corp., Corey Steel Co. and Kentucky Electric Steel. 

Optima and the subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in December 2016, citing significant debt, low oil prices, global excess steel capacity and a decrease in demand.   

Through the reorganization, the company exchanged US$87.5 million in unsecured notes held by Massachusetts investment firm DDJ Capital Management LLC for the equity of the reorganized company, according to In addition, DDJ is providing US$240 million in exit financing, it reported. 

"The SSWI team has emerged from bankruptcy with a new financial structure and is very well positioned to compete in the markets we serve," said Hawthorne. "SSWI has a unique role in the industry as a result of its combined strengths as a leading manufacturer of specialty steel products and a leading niche player in the steel supply chain, together with its broad product offering across a variety of end markets and its diversified customer base."