Liberty House in front position for more AM assets

Metals producer and trader Liberty House is reported to be in the pole position to purchase the remaining ArcelorMittal assets put on sale as part of the divestment package agreed with the European Commission to close ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Ilva.

The decision is likely to be disclosed very soon, two market sources close to the deal told S&P Global Platts on Wednesday.

ArcelorMittal is in discussions to sell the last part of the assets slated for divestment: its rolling/finishing lines at Dudelange (Luxembourg) and cold-rolling and tin packaging lines in Tilleur, Liege (Belgium).

It is understood that the choice is between Salzgitter and Liberty House. If the latter is chosen as expected it will become an important actor in the European steel industry. A few weeks ago ArcelorMittal announced it had agreed to sell to Liberty House its largest “remedies” package — involving the steelmaking facilities in the Czech Republic, Romania, Macedonia and Italy. Closure of this transaction is now subject to approval by the EC and consultations with local European works councils.

Salzgitter confirmed to Platts a few weeks ago that it bid for these rolling and finishing lines. On Wednesday a Salzgitter press officer did not reply to Platts on the matter before the editorial deadline. Liberty House and ArcelorMittal both declined to comment when contacted by Platts.

According to Platts’ sources, the EC wanted all the units to be sold to a single company. It is understood that if Liberty House is confirmed as the buyer of all ArcelorMittal remedies it is likely that there will be a commercial agreement between Liberty House and ArcelorMittal, with AM Ghent (5.5 million mt/year capacity) feeding the Liege line while the AM Durkirk site (7 million mt/year crude capacity) feeding the Dudelange line.

According to analysts at Jefferies Research Services, Dudelange and Liege in total have annual capacities of 1.6 million mt to produce galvanized/coated steel, 300,000 mt of cold-rolled coil and 200,000 mt of tinplate. According to ArcelorMittal’s website, ArcelorMittal Dudelange consists of two hot-dip galvanizing lines, two electrogalvanizing lines, two slitting and two cutting lines. It produces Aluzinc, Alusi, Usibor and EG sheet.

According to Liberty House’s website the company was established in 1992 by Sanjeev Gupta as a trading company focused on Africa and Asia. In 2009 Liberty acquired its first steel plant in Africa. In 2013, it acquired MIR Steel Newport, a 2 million mt/year capacity steelworks, which was later renamed Liberty Steel Newport (LSN). In the same year Liberty purchased the second largest privately owned engineering business in the UK – Caparo Industries Plc. The year after Liberty purchased an EAF, continuous casting equipment, rod and bar mill in Sheerness. Last year Liberty House acquired Tata Speciality Steels, which was renamed Liberty Speciality Steels. In the same year it also targeted Australia, where it acquired Arrium’s steel business — now called Liberty Onesteel.

Annalisa Villa, S&P Global PLATTS