GFG Alliance buys Aartee steel distribution assets in Italy

Steel, metals, and energy grouping GFG Alliance said Feb. 20 it has acquired the Italian assets of international steel manufacturing, distribution, and trading group Aartee through the 100% purchase of shares in Aartee Group Pte Limited.

News of the acquisition follows GFG Alliance’s Feb. 17 announcement that it has acquired collapsed UK steel firm Aartee Bright Bar with the intention of incorporating ABB into its Liberty Steel Group subsidiary.

The acquisition of Aartee will boost Liberty Steel Group’s presence in Italy, where it already owns Liberty Magona at Piombino, thus improving its competitive advantage in the country, GFG Alliance said in an emailed statement.

Aartee operates in Italy through Aartee Distribuzione Italia, with four processing plants in Italy, at Arcore and Graffignana—both near Milan—Quarto Inferiore, near Bologna, and Rieti. Together, the plants employ around 115 people and have a capacity of more than 160,000 mt/year of specialist steel products.

Aartee has 90% of its sales within Italy, with customers in sectors, including automotive, construction, and white goods. The acquisition will allow Liberty Steel Group “to reduce costs through synergies,” the statement said. Aartee also manages the former Ferretti International plant activities in Italy.

“Aartee Distribuzione Italia is an important part of Italy’s steel supply chain and will allow us to extend our product offering, customer base, and distribution network within Italy,” said Ajay Aggarwal, Liberty Steel Group’s European president. “I look forward to visiting the sites over the next few weeks and welcoming Aartee’s employees, with their excellence and motivation, into our group.”

Prior to running into financial issues during the coronavirus pandemic with the collapse of its major lender, UK-based Greensill Capital, in March 2021, Liberty Steel Group had made several acquisitions, including several works formerly belonging to ArcelorMittal in Europe.

In June, Liberty Steel Group reached a debt standstill agreement with Greensill Bank on debt facilities for its European business.

In November, Liberty Steel Group reported it had reached an agreement to restructure its global debt with some of its main creditors.

Following the November accord, Liberty Steel Group has resumed some merger and acquisition activity. On Nov. 25 it announced it had agreed to buy South Korea’s 3 million mt/year Dongbu steelmaking plant and associated equipment from steelmaker KG Steel, now followed by the two Aartee purchases.

Liberty Steel Group is Europe’s fourth-largest steel manufacturer, with more than 10.5 million mt of annual rolling capacity in the region, according to the company’s website.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe at Eur790/mt ($844.12/mt) ex-works Ruhr Feb. 20, up Eur5 from Feb. 17.

— Diana Kinch