Liberty nears Huta Czestochowa acquisition completion despite woes

Liberty Steel says it has fulfilled its commitment to the Polish administrative court to acquire plate mill Huta Czestochowa (HCz), despite the steelmaking group’s widely publicised financial woes.

Liberty Steel won the tender for the sale of HCz in January after being the only bidder (see Kallanish passim). The mill’s acquisition is “the next step in strengthening LIBERTY’s ambitions to be a major GREENSTEEL producer in Central and Eastern Europe”, a Liberty Steel spokesperson says.

Liberty is focusing on increasing output of low-carbon “greensteel” heavy plate at HCz to serve major infrastructure projects due to be started shortly under the Polish government’s post-pandemic recovery plan. The plant is sourcing slab feedstock from Liberty Ostrava in neighbouring Czech Republic and scrap feedstock through Liberty’s established commercial network in Europe.

The addition of HCz to the group will provide synergies for Ostrava, including improving the operational stability of its blast furnace operation, and increasing the availability and reducing the price of scrap that Ostrava requires.

HCz, previously owned by Industrial Union of Donbas, has a 700,000 tonnes/year electric arc furnace and 1.2 million t/y heavy plate capacity.

Liberty’s financial troubles, precipitated by the collapse in March of major lender Greensill Capital, are forcing the group to make divestments to stay in operation. Last week it announced it will sell its UK plants in Stocksbridge, Brinsworth and West Bromwich. In France it is under pressure from the government to financially guarantee the future of its French facilities, Ascoval and Hayange, while unions are urging the sale of its La Magona unit in Italy.

Liberty meanwhile came under fire last month from the Czech government and unions for selling Ostrava’s excess carbon emissions allowances to sister company Liberty Galati in Romania. It has since used the proceeds to pay employees a bonus, with the remainder to be used for investment projects.

Adam Smith Germany