- GFG Alliance announces restart of LIBERTY Steel USA’s Georgetown, South Carolina plant, shut down during Covid-19 pandemic
- International operations continue to perform well, reflecting operational improvements and continued strength in metals markets
- LIBERTY Liège to restart operations, following the Liège Commercial Court’s validation of its transformation plan, also approved by creditors
- Group preparing for next phase of debt restructuring
Following the creation of LIBERTY Steel Group’s Restructuring and Transformation Committee (RTC) in May 2021 and the sustained progress achieved to date, GFG Alliance (GFG) and the RTC today report further developments across the Group.
Jeffrey S. Stein, Chief Restructuring Officer said: “We’re pleased to announce the restart of LIBERTY Steel USA’s Georgetown, South Carolina plant, further evidence of healthy market conditions and strong infrastructure spending across much of the globe. GFG Alliance’s international businesses are achieving excellent performance which is bolstering cashflow and boosting the Group’s refinancing efforts. Since our last update further organisational progress has been made to focus the group on its core businesses, cementing the foundations for a successful recovery”
- LIBERTY Steel USA is to reopen its Georgetown, South Carolina rod mill as strong market conditions enable a sustainable restart following a period of care and maintenance during the Covid-19 pandemic. LIBERTY Steel Georgetown will resume production in mid-January, enabling 65 employees to return to work, as higher construction and infrastructure spending strengthens demand and the provision of Section 232 tariffs and quotas on steel reduces imports.
UK After a strategic review GFG Alliance announced in November that it will restructure LIBERTY Aluminium Technologies (LAT) and divest it to Evtec Aluminium Ltd. The transaction will secure the future of more than 170 jobs and ensure that the Coventry and Kidderminster plants continue to supply LAT’s solid long-term customer base. However, as a result of the restructuring, LAT’s plant in Witham will close, and sadly this may result in approximately 64 people being made redundant. We would like to thank all the staff for their hard work in consistently delivering quality products and services to their clients during a period of uncertainty.
- In Belgium, the Liège Commercial Court has validated the LIBERTY Liège transformation plan, which has also been approved by the business’s creditors. The plan presented by the management team is an important and positive step for the long term, sustainable future of the business and its employees. In Luxembourg, the management team at LIBERTY Dudelange has agreed with both its unions and the Government to undertake a technical restructuring to temporarily protect its employees while new sources of financing are put in place.
Leadership On 8th November Toker Ozcan was appointed as CEO, GREENSTEEL EMEA for LIBERTY Steel Group, as LIBERTY further strengthens its international management team to lead the global transition to GREENSTEEL. Mr Ozcan, who brings thirty years of experience in metals and mining, lastly as Chairman and CEO of Erdemir and Isdemir, will oversee GFG’s electric arc furnace operations in continental Europe, UK, and India, and also lead the Group’s downstream operations in continental Europe.
- LIBERTY Georgetown will integrate operations with LIBERTY’s Peoria, Illinois plant to fulfil a strong order book and clear a customer backlog. Billet will be manufactured in Peoria, taking advantage of the plant’s additional melt capacity, then delivered to Georgetown for conversion into 10,000 tonnes per month of finished rod.
- LIBERTY Steel Georgetown has also implemented efficiencies such as utility cost savings, rental equipment return, and contractor reductions to improve profitability and develop a sustainable long term plan for the plant.
- LIBERTY Steel UK (LSUK) relaunched production at its GREENSTEEL Rotherham electric arc furnace in October, producing sustainable steel for growth markets such as infrastructure and high-value engineering. The restart followed a funding injection from GFG Alliance. The plant, among the UK’s most electro-intensive industrial sites, has been operating at night, to maximise efficiency and mitigate high energy costs. LSUK’s speciality steel division in nearby Stocksbridge which produces steel components for demanding aerospace and energy applications, also restarted focused production campaigns for key customers.
- On 15th November LIBERTY Steel UK welcomed the Business Minister with responsibility for Steel, Lee Rowley MP, to its Rotherham plant.
- As part of November’s COP26 summit GFG established a new three-way policy partnership with Green Alliance, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Bright Blue, thought-leading organisations in the spheres of environment, manufacturing and policy-making. GFG launched the partnership with the Prospectus for GREENSTEEL, in which the three organisations highlighted the role that steel making and products made from steel can play in the drive to net-zero, with a competitive operating environment and the right policy incentives in place.
- GFG Alliance’s European Works Council Agreement was signed with the Special Negotiation Body of employee representatives from across Europe. The agreement is a major step forward in GFG Alliance’s industrial relations and will be a pillar of its strategic commitment to embrace positive social dialogue on a European level.
- Following the agreement of its restructuring plan, LIBERTY Liège will now restart its operations, start to implement a creditor reimbursement plan and continue its social dialogue to ensure its transformation plan can be implemented as soon as possible. Following the decision to undertake a technical restructuring at LIBERTY Dudelange to protect its employees, the management team will continue to work collaboratively with its stakeholders to identify new sources of financing and develop sustainable business plans for its future.
- In Romania, LIBERTY Galati continues to perform strongly with its Q3 production levels up on those achieved in Q2 and around 20% higher than the same quarter in 2020. The business will have hired almost 650 new employees this year, with 100 new roles created by the plant’s increased production as well as the digitalisation and automation projects created as part of its GREENSTEEL transformation programme.
- In the Czech Republic, LIBERTY Ostrava continues to perform well with its Q3 production levels at similar levels to those of Q2 but up more than 60% on the same quarter in 2020. The team are now in the process of evaluating the final tenders from potential suppliers of the two hybrid furnaces which are at the centre of Ostrava’s GREENSTEEL transformation plan and expects to select the chosen supplier very shortly. The business also expects to hire at least 100 new workers to support development of its seamless pipes market.
- InfraBuild continues to perform strongly with revenue up 41% and EBITDA up 106% in quarter one FY2022 compared with the same quarter in the previous financial year. InfraBuild’s Sydney Steel melt shop produced 58,887 billet tonnes in October, surpassing a previous best of 56,955 billet tonnes in July 2018 and producing 3,569 more tonnes than forecasted. This major production record is a direct result of the continuous improvement and operational improvement initiatives taking place across the InfraBuild business.
- On 18th November, the Tahmoor coking coal mine for the first time in its 40+ year history produced more than 25,000t in a single day, beating its previous daily record of 24, 877 tonnes achieved in March.
- InfraBuild Technical Superintendent, Andrea Fontana, will be the voice of the iron and steelmaking industry on the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Hydrogen International Collaboration Program. The group aims to strengthen research connections, collaboration, and knowledge sharing between Australian and leading international hydrogen research organisations. Andrea is Chair of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (Australia) and from his work with the Swinburne University of Technology, part of the Steel Research Hub.
- Whyalla Steelworks won the South Australia Premier’s Awards in Energy and Mining in the Innovation and Transformation (Productivity Improvement) category. The Whyalla Steelworks’ Continuous Improvement (CI) Program was recognised for having improved efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, and for demonstrating innovative thinking.
- LIBERTY Bell Bay’s Michael Spicer was recently recognised at the 2021 Women in Resources Awards in the Gender Diversity Champion category. In his role as Production Materials Movement Manager, Michael won the award for his efforts to increase female participation in the workforce – increasing his team’s diversity to 50 per cent of leadership roles and 16 per cent overall female participation.
In response to the progress achieved by the RTC, Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance, commented:
“In just ten months since Greensill collapsed we’ve made great progress. We completed the first phase of debt restructuring in Australia and injected fresh capital into our UK steel business. We have better integrated our downstream assets with our major production hubs and strengthened industrial relations through the formation of the European Works Council. The RTC has helped tighten our focus on governance, adding expertise and accountability to our decision-making, and enabling us to attract the best talent into all levels of our business.
The strides we’ve taken have enabled our core businesses to capitalise on strong markets and deliver record production volumes and profitability. This has put us in a strong position to achieve the next phase of our transformation and we are already seeing strong interest in Europe, the UK and the US. We are on track to deliver a refinanced, refocussed business able to deliver our GREENSTEEL vision and build value for all our stakeholders.”
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