British steelmaker Liberty Steel, part of the global GFG Alliance headed up by Sanjeev Gupta, a man widely regarded as the saviour of the British steel industry, is set for another major expansion of its steel production capacity in continental Europe following a conditional agreement announced today (2 November) to acquire two Belgian steel mills and one in Luxembourg from ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker.

The group has struck a conditional agreement to buy the Flemalle and Tilleur sites which employ a total of around 700 people near Liege, Belgium, and the Dudelange, Luxembourg facility, which employs 300 people. The three mills serve the construction, industrial and automotive markets and have a combined annual manufacturing capacity of 2.1Mt of cold rolled steel, 2Mt of galvanised steel, and 200kt of tin plated steel.

The announcement closely follows last month's statement from Liberty Steel concerning a conditional agreement reached with ArcelorMittal to acquire major integrated works at Galati in Romania and Ostrava in the Czech Republic, along with mills at Skopje in Macedonia and Piombino in Italy.

Both deals are subject to approval by the European Commission and other local processes including the conclusion of information consultations with local and European Works Councils.

In common with the plants in eastern Europe and Italy, the sites at Liege and Dudelange are claimed to be profitable assets that will further consolidate Liberty’s growing presence in continental Europe.

Referring to the plants in Belgium and Luxembourg, Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the GFG Alliance, said: “These are high quality, landmark assets with skilled and experienced workforces that we are looking forward to welcoming into the worldwide GFG fold. Our aim will be to develop close working relationships with respective governments, trade unions and other local stakeholders in Belgium and Luxembourg to optimise and improve the value of these historic assets that are important for the regional and national economies.”

Jay Hambro, GFG Alliance’s chief investment officer, added: “These plants are an important and logical addition to our expanding, integrated European supply chain. By entering these key markets and expanding our footprint, we’re embedding our European presence and bolstering our competitive position internationally. We’re delighted to be adding these plants to our fleet and to extend our innovative business model based on skill retention, vertical integration and sustainable production to these excellent sites.”

The three sites constitute the second part of a total package of site sales ArcelorMittal agreed with EU competition regulators to clear the way for it to purchase Italian steel giant, Ilva, Europe’s largest producer of flat carbon steel. Liberty has worked closely with ArcelorMittal to prepare a transaction that satisfies the demands of the EU Commission and creates a secure future for these businesses within the GFG Alliance.