LONDON – UK-based Indian-origin metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House Group has completed the purchase of the South Carolina-based Georgetown steel mill from ArcelorMittal, the company has announced.
The deal between Liberty House and NRI steel magnate Lakshmi N Mittal’s US steelworks, which includes a 540,000- tonne a year electric arc furnace and 680,000-tonne a year rod mill, had been agreed earlier this year.
The sale marks the first in a series of strategic North American acquisitions and new projects targeted by Gupta-led GFG Alliance.
The 600,000-square-foot plant, serving the construction and automotive markets, is set to re-start melting and rolling next year as the first step in GFG’s investment plans for the American steel industry.
“Securing the Georgetown furnace and mill is a major milestone for us, marking our first major step in the USA. The melting and rolling facilities here give us a formidable entry to the American market and provide a strong platform for expansion,” GFG Alliance and Liberty House chief Gupta said in a statement on Monday.
The steel tycoon said he wanted to apply his GreenSteel sustainable strategy to the American plants, in line with the UK and Australia.
“We’ve already had customers contacting us about placing orders, so we’re keen to get back up and running as quickly as possible,” he said.
Liberty will initially re-hire 125 former employees at Georgetown and then build the workforce to 250 in the medium- term.
The group is targeting a major share of the US market for home-produced wire rod, demand for which is projected to grow substantially during 2018.
Completion of the Georgetown deal follows successful negotiations between Liberty and several key stakeholders, including the United Steelworkers of America union, Georgetown Council and the South Carolina State Government over the past few months.
The steelworks were a pivotal part of the American state’s industrial infrastructure for nearly 70 years until it was shuttered in 2015.
Liberty has said it wants to restore it to its former position of prominence and bring hundreds of skilled jobs back to the plant and to the local and state economy.
“Throughout the process, ArcelorMittal has been steadfast in our goal of maintaining the Georgetown steelmaking operation to preserve jobs and maximise the value of the property for our shareholders,” said John Brett, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA.
“While bittersweet for ArcelorMittal, we are hopeful that today’s announcement is a celebration for Liberty and GFG Alliance, the United Steelworkers and the Georgetown community,” Brett said.
Under an agreement with the United Steelworkers, the company expects key roles on the furnace, casters and rolling mill to be filled by experienced former employees of the plant and it is also in discussion with Georgetown Council about training programmes to prepare a new generation of workers for the industry.
Liberty House is part of the wider GFG Alliance, a global group of energy, mining, metals, engineering and financial services businesses, headquartered in London.