Liberty Steel plays down significance of Dalzell’s missed repayments

Liberty Steel, part of the GFG Alliance industrial group, played down media reports April 19 that missed interest payments on a GBP 7 million ($9.79 million) loan from the Scottish government to its Dalzell steel plate in Motherwell could impact its UK steel business.

“Our arrangements with the Scottish government are confidential. We can confirm that Dalzell has been operationally strong this year and we are up to date with our vendor payments,” a Liberty Steel spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The plant in Motherwell is understood to be operating normally, with no impact on production.

Some European steel prices are at multi-year highs amid a supply-demand mismatch.

Last week the European plate market saw further increases as buyers continued their restocking activities and absorbed offer hikes by suppliers with more increases expected to come, sources told S&P Global Platts April 16.

One Italian supplier said prices were at Eur810-820 EXW Italy for heavy plate grade S235, with current lead times in May to June.

The weekly Platts plate assessment for Northern Europe increased Eur30/mt to Eur855/mt EXW Ruhr April 16, while the Southern European assessment went up Eur25/mt on week to Eur805/mt EXW Italy.

A spokesperson for Scottish Enterprise, the government agency which made the loan to Dalzell, said in an emailed statement that the agency recognizes “the challenging environment for businesses in Scotland right now and also the significant economic benefit Liberty Steel brings in terms of jobs, the supply chain and the future safeguarding of Scotland’s steel industry.

“We and our partners continue to work closely with Liberty Steel to explore avenues of support for the business. We are in discussion with Liberty Steel on repayment of the loan funding. Debt forbearance is not uncommon in the current market.”

The agency did not confirm whether the missed interest repayments were related to the collapse last month of Greensill Capital, GFG Alliance’s main financier.

— Diana Kinch