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Ed. note: Enjoy this timely dispatch from London by MetalMiner’s Editor at Large.

Not just Europe but the entire world was surprised at Britain’s decision following a referendum in 2016 to leave the EU.

At the time, the media was full of the story but in the interim we have all rather switched off as the negotiations have taken a tortuous route back and forth without appearing to make any progress. Brits have largely despaired that their government will ever come to a workable solution, an opinion reinforced last week when the latest (and according to the EU) final deal was presented to parliament, only for it to be roundly rejected and face the prospect this week of being formally thrown out if it is put to a vote.

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Now, even though Prime Minister Theresa May has just delayed a Commons vote for the plan that was originally scheduled for tomorrow, the prospect of Brexit is not some far-off threat; come the end of March, the UK formally leaves the EU and — whatever happens — will have to accept a new form of relationship with its neighbors.

The questions is, how will we get there at this point?

(more…)

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Indian-born British businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s global conglomerate GFG Alliance has signed a binding agreement to purchase all of the outstanding stock in Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc. (KCI) from Contran Corporation.

Under terms of the deal, Liberty Steel USA, a company under the GFG umbrella, will acquire KCI, including all its subsidiaries, for U.S. $320 million in cash (less certain assumed liabilities), according to a GFG release.

The purchase is expected to close on or before Dec. 31, 2018, subject to regulatory issues.

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In October, GFG Alliance purchased steel plants in the Czech Republic, Romania, Macedonia and Italy from top global steelmaker ArcelorMittal, in the process doubling its worldwide steel-rolling capacity to 15 million tons per annum (mtpa). Incidentally, it also owns a U.S.-based steelworks in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Gupta, the executive chairman of Liberty Steel and GFG Alliance, said in a written statement that the Keystone acquisition was “a core part of GFG’s GREENSTEEL vision to become a leading U.S. producer of high quality, cleanly produced steel.”

Grant Quasha, chief investment officer for GFG North American, said in a statement that combined with Liberty Steel Georgetown, the Dallas-headquartered KCI will increase its downstream capabilities and create critical synergies.

Liberty Steel USA will have up to 1.8 mtpa of electric-arc furnace (EAF) melting capacity, 2 mtpa of wire rod rolling capacity, significant value-added downstream businesses and over 1,300 employees.

The combined company will have operations in Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia.

Being in the business for over 100 years, Keystone Steel and Wire, a division of KCI, had recently posted its strongest results in its long history. It added a wire rod facility with a 1.1 mt capacity EAF, the market-leading agricultural fence products of RedBrand, industrial wire, an MBQ/SBQ bar mill, three welded wire reinforcement mesh facilities and a PC strand facility.

The acquisition will make Liberty one of the leading producers of wire rod in the U.S.

Of late, some analysts have been raising the red flag with respect to GFG’s rapid worldwide growth.

According to The Sunday Times report, some suppliers complained of being owed large sums by the conglomerate.

It was in 2017 that the GFG Alliance had acquired Liberty Steel Georgetown. The Georgetown facility was then restarted in June this year, and has been pushing up production to the current, 400 kt run rate by the first quarter of 2019.

Together, KCI and Liberty Steel Georgetown will now be at the core of GFG’s North American business, which the company is looking to grow further with additional acquisitions in the coming months.

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Contran Corporation, a holding company, operates through its wholly owned and majority-owned subsidiaries, including: Valhi, Inc., NL Industries, Inc., Kronos Worldwide, Inc. and CompX International Inc. Contran is a leading global producer and marketer of value-added titanium dioxide pigments, which are used to impart whiteness, brightness and opacity to a wide variety of products, including paints, plastics, paper, fibers and ceramics.