Liberty Steel to sell two West Midlands plants

Liberty Steel is to sell two plants across the West Midlands as part of a major restructure.

Liberty is to keep its steel works in Rotherham
Liberty is to keep its steel works in Rotherham

Sites in West Bromwich and Kidderminster will all be sold by the UK's third largest steel business as part of its restructuring and refinancing.

The plans also include the sale of the major Stocksbridge steel plant near Sheffield along with sites in Coventry and Brinsworth, South Yorkshire.

Between them all, the plants for sale employ around 1,500 people but Liberty said the restructure could protect thousands of jobs across its businesses.

The Sanjeev Gupta-owned firm agreed the refinancing plan after weekend talks with creditors.

The steel giant was heavily reliant on Greensill Capital, a financing company which went out of business earlier this year, raising worries about Liberty's future, and the 5,000 people it employs in the UK

When the financing company went into administration, its lawyers revealed that it had around five billion dollars (£3.5 billion) of exposure to Liberty's parent company GFG Alliance.

Liberty has already begun the formal sale process of Liberty Aluminium Technologies, which has a site at Stourport Road, Kidderminster and Liberty Pressing Solutions in Coventry.

The company said it would be working with the main customers of these plants to find a sustainable home for the businesses which don't fit in with Liberty's decarbonised plans for the future.

A formal sale process for Stocksbridge and its downstream plants, the narrow strip mill at Brinsworth and steel strip manufacturer Liberty Performance Steels at Albion Road, West Bromwich will be launched shortly.

Liberty also owns Liberty Speciality Steels Bright Bar in All Saints Road, Wednesbury, where around 100 workers are employed.

Liberty said it has made "significant progress" in agreeing a deal to resolve issues between Mr Gupta's business empire and banking giant Credit Suisse.

The business has announced that Mr Gupta and his newly-formed restructuring and transformation committee are in advanced discussions with Credit Suisse Asset Management to reach a formal 'standstill agreement' on its Liberty Primary Metals Australia business while refinancing is completed that will repay Credit Suisse out in full.

The aerospace and special alloys steel business in Stocksbridge is "a unique, high quality business servicing marquee customers in aerospace, auto and other highly engineered applications," the business said.

However it is not a core part of Liberty's Greensteel plan to create more environmentally-friendly steel.

By selling, Liberty hopes it can focus on scaling up its plant in Rotherham to make two million tonnes of green steel.

The plant will make use of some of the millions of tonnes of steel scrap currently exported by the UK to make more of the quality steel needed in the UK, which is currently being imported.

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