Tuesday, May 2, 2017

News: Liberty House to invest in Rotherham steelworks

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International industrials and metals group, Liberty House has formally completed the £100m deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK and has announced that it will be creating around 300 new steel jobs in South Yorkshire.

The sale agreement covers several South Yorkshire-based assets including the electric arc steelworks and bar mill at Rotherham, the steel purifying facility in Stocksbridge and a mill in Brinsworth as well as service centres in Bolton and Wednesbury, UK, and in Suzhou and Xi'an, China.

Protecting the jobs of 1,700 existing staff, Liberty House also announced expansion plans expected to generate an additional 300 production jobs in the business with an investment of £20m in the first year.

Speciality Steels currently produces around 225,000 tonnes of steel and had a £210m turnover under Tata Steel Europe. It was its only Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) based business, specialising in carbon, alloy and stainless steels for demanding applications like aerospace, motorsports and oil and gas.

Liberty House is an international steel and non-ferrous metals group and has already taken on plants in Newport and Scotland. It also acquired parts of Caparo's advanced engineering products and precision strip businesses in the West Midlands.

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Liberty said it would invest up to £20m in new plant and equipment in the first year alone to "boost competitiveness and secure international market leadership for the business", which is being relaunched as Liberty Speciality Steels. The business will increase output substantially at the electric arc furnaces, casting shop and bar mill in Rotherham, with bigger plans across the wider Speciality business in the years ahead.

Production from the arc furnaces is expected to rise to over a million tonnes per annum and there are plans for the bar mill to roll over 400,000 tonnes a year. In addition the business will grow its position in the aerospace markets, utilising recent capital investments at Stocksbridge and investing in additional capacity and new technology.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House said: "The Speciality Steels business is a global leader in its field, with a highly-skilled and well-motivated workforce and we are eager to invest so it can grow and achieve its full potential. Today marks a step change for the Liberty House Group because we are taking on strategically important capacity that will drive expansion in the years ahead. It will help us achieve our GREENSTEEL vision and facilitate investment in engineering products, thereby reducing the supply-chain gaps in the UK, especially in automotive and aerospace sectors.

"By investing to acquire Speciality Steels we are casting a big vote of confidence in the future of British industry. With the right business model and an innovative approach, the UK steel and engineering sectors can recover and thrive. The Government is now pursuing a new post-Brexit industrial strategy and steel must be at the heart of that strategy."

The GREENSTEEL vision promotes widespread melting and upcycling of UK domestic scrap metal, using arc furnaces powered from renewable energy sources. As part of the strategy, Liberty's sister company SIMEC is actively considering investment in bio-diesel power generation at Speciality Steel sites.

The Speciality Steels businesses is also expected to complement Liberty's engineering operations in the West Midlands which already use steel from these plants to make their precision products. Liberty will explore further downstream investment to make more extensive use of the products from Speciality Steels to boost manufacturing in the UK.

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Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Speciality Steels, said: "Through increased output and improved positions in the UK, North American and EU markets, the business can improve its competitiveness and re-establish itself as a global force in the supply of engineering steels.

"We will be running the business with greater focus and a strong vision and will be capitalising on recent investment in state-of-the-art steel-making facilities to strengthen our position in technically-challenging markets. We are aiming to improve capacity utilisation and productivity for the benefit of the whole business. We are also in discussion with the trade unions on how we can work together to facilitate our ambitious growth plans."

Liberty House Group website

Images: Tata Steel / Liberty House


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