Monday 7 June 2021 3:56 pm

ArcelorMittal 'awaits EU approval' for Liberty Steel France bid

The EU is currently examining steel giant ArcelorMittal’s bid for Liberty Steel’s French assets at Hayange and Ascovel, it was reported today.

EU documents seen by Bloomberg show that the Luxembourg-based firm has submitted an offer for Liberty Steel France Holding SAS, which owns the assets.

The deadline for the EU to give the deal its approval is 9 June.

It comes as tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which owns Liberty Steel, scrambles to find new financing to prevent its metals empire from crumbling.

The conglomerate has already announced that it will sell off its Stocksbridge steel plant in order to pay off its creditors in full after the collapse of its main financier Greensill.

A spokesperson for Liberty Steel Group said that the firm was “taking prudent steps to explore sale options for these businesses and will be inviting interested parties to submit offers”.

They added: “Liberty Steel France, which incorporates Liberty Ascoval and Liberty Rail Hayange, has faced a significant reduction in working capital support since the collapse of Greensill Capital. 

“Given the strength of the steel market and the high quality products we produce, we remain confident that we can secure new financing.”

A spokesperson for ArcelorMittal confirmed that it had made bid, saying:

“ArcelorMittal confirms that it has submitted an offer to acquire the Hayange and Ascoval steel plants which are currently owned by the GFG Alliance.

“As the world’s leading steel and mining company, ArcelorMittal plans to invest in and grow the assets in the short- to medium-term, improve the sustainability and profitability of both operations and integrate them into ArcelorMittal’s European network.”

The firm already employs 15,500 people in France, where it produced 8m tonnes of steel last year.

Rothschild & Co is running the Liberty Steel sale process.

Liberty Steel has a sizeable operation in mainland Europe, employing around 14,000 people across seven countries.

It only took control of the Hayange and Ascovel assets, which used to be owned by British Steel, last August.

The French government has classed the sites as key strategic assets as they make steel for state rail firm SNCF.