Romanian steel pipe group sold by Russian owner to Serbian investment company

Romanian pipe manufacturer Artrom Steel Tubes has been acquired by Belgrade-based investment banking company Hefestos Capital from Russian pipemaking group TMK, Artrom said in a statement emailed to S&P Global Commodity Insights.

The sale of Artrom may have been necessitated by pressure from the Romanian government to disassociate industrial enterprises from the Russian business, according to market sources.

Romania’s Ministry of the Economy and Artrom could not be reached for comment on Jan. 23 — a public holiday in the country.

Artrom Steel Tubes — until recently known as TMK-Artrom — comprises the 450,000 mt/year billet casting mill in Resita in west Romania and the 200,000 mt/year pipe rolling mill in Slatina, in the southwest of the country.

In March, shortly after the EU imposed sanctions on then-TMK owner Dmitry Pumpyansky prompting him to immediately dispose of his TMK shares and resign from the company’s board, Romania’s tax authority blocked TMK-Artrom’s bank accounts, disrupting its sales. This sparked protests by the Slatina and Resita mills’ unions, S&P Global Commodity Insights reported.

President of the company’s board Adrian Popescu said in the emailed statement that Artrom could now resume its development programs delayed by the crises of the last three years — the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine.

The most recent growth project not yet implemented was announced by TMK in 2019 and aimed to boost Artrom’s rolling capacity by 60% to 320,000 mt/year by 2024.

Hefestos Capital was established in 2001 and has expertise in an array of industries including the oil and gas sector, according to its website.

— Ekaterina Bouckley