The French sites in difficulty of Ascoval and Hayange do indeed have a buyer. The court in charge of the case validated Saarstahl’s offer on Monday. “The conciliation agreement has been approved by the Paris Commercial Court,” confirmed a spokesperson for the German steel group.
“We are delighted, it is a great satisfaction to be part of the Saarstahl group, which is nevertheless a heavy industrial group. We are almost certain that this will ensure the sustainability of the sites, ”said Gérard Glas, president of Liberty Rail Hayange (Moselle), specifying that the deeds of sale will not be signed before Wednesday.
The CGT satisfied
For Nacim Bardi, CGT delegate from Ascoval (North), this decision is a “relief”. “We are very happy to be taken over by a European who knows the business, who has extensive experience in steel and metallurgy, they are real manufacturers. Now it’s up to us to do the work and up to them to keep their commitments ”. “We hope that being taken over by such a group, of this scale, will allow us a certain stability, a steel group which is interested in us is a godsend”, added Nicolas Lethellier, also CGT delegate of Ascoval .
This decision “ends two and a half years of work and will bring a stable and powerful shareholder base to these two companies”, for her part reacted the Minister for Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher. “The support for a recycled rail industry and the investments we have financed to do so, combined with the exceptional commitment of employees who have transformed their production equipment in an extraordinarily difficult period, pay”, she estimated.
Some 700 employees concerned
The German steel group Saarstahl confirmed on July 2 the conclusion of an agreement in principle for the takeover of these two sites. In May, Liberty Steel, owner for less than a year of the Ascoval steelworks in Saint-Saulve and the Hayange rail factory, announced that it was looking for buyers, due to financial difficulties encountered by its boss, the British Sanjeev Gupta, and his family holding company GFG Alliance. The group has been desperate for funds since the bankruptcy in March of financial firm Greensill Capital, its main creditor.
With 270 employees, Ascoval produces “blooms” (steel bars) for Hayange (430 employees), which manufactures steel rails then intended for the main European rail networks, in particular SNCF Réseau and RATP. Founded in 1975, Ascoval presents itself, after 150 million investments in recent years, as “one of the most modern and” ecological “steelworks in Europe”.