UK-based Indian-origin entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House Group today announced an in- principal agreement to acquire ArcelorMittal’s Georgetown Steelworks in South Carolina. The proposed deal between Liberty House and NRI steel magnate Lakshmi N Mittal’s US steelworks includes a 540,000- tonne a year electric arc furnace and 680,000-tonne a year rod mill.
The agreement is subject to agreement on final terms between the two parties and completion of due diligence by Liberty over the coming weeks, a joint statement said.
If completed as planned, the acquisition will give Liberty House the opportunity to reopen and revitalise business, which was an important part of the state’s industrial infrastructure for 47 years before its closure in August 2015.
It would also mark the first significant step in Liberty’s plan to make major investments in the US steel industry, the UK-based company said. “This is a landmark day for Georgetown and its residents, particularly families with a previous stake in the steel industry who will now get a chance to rediscover what was lost.
Our agreement in principle with ArcelorMittal opens the door to the eventual restoration of several hundred jobs, both directly and in the supply chain, and it gives this region’s economy a new industrial focus,” Gupta said.
The businessman behind the GreenSteel strategy of Liberty House has been instrumental in a string of recent acquisitions of struggling steel units in the UK, including those formerly owned by NRI industrialist Swraj Paul’s Caparo Group and Tata Steel. He explained: “This is a key first step for us in the US. We’re keen to apply the same low-carbon GreenSteel vision here as we are doing in the UK.
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Acquiring the plant at Georgetown, with its ability to recycle scrap steel in an arc furnace, gives us a strong platform from which to launch our strategy in the US. “We’re confident that, with the right support from the community and authorities, we can make Georgetown and other US steel plants competitive, profitable and sustainable.”
Confirming the provisional agreement, John Brett, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA, said: “We have achieved our goal of identifying a purchaser with extensive steel experience and a commitment to returning this site to its steelmaking capability. We hope the community will welcome this opportunity that will preserve the facility and equipment and create good jobs with good wages.”
Liberty House has also been in discussion with United Steelworkers and said it is confident that the workers’ union will support and assist in the process of recruiting a workforce to re-open the plant and rebuild the business. The 600,000 sq ft Georgetown plant sits on a 60-acre site next to a deep-water port along the Sampit River. When operating at full capacity the steelworks employed more than 320 workers directly and supported hundreds more jobs in the local economy.
The plant has traditionally served the construction, automotive and industrial markets. Liberty’s GreenSteel strategy is aimed at achieving a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable steel industry worldwide.