London-based firm says it's buying Louisiana steel mill

LAPLACE, La. (AP) — London-based Liberty Steel Group said Monday that its $28 million cash offer has made it the preferred buyer for a Louisiana steel mill that shut down abruptly in the fall, putting 376 people out of work.

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Bayou Steel Group announced the layoffs and shutdown Sept. 30. The following day, it said it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Liberty said its deal is expected to close Jan. 31. It plans to upgrade and modernize the mill in LaPlace and hopes to resume recycling in the second half of 2020 and steel making by 2021, according to a news release.

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Liberty already owns steel operations in Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico and South Carolina. “The group is pursuing a GREENSTEEL strategy of focusing on renewable sources of energy and recycled materials, with a view to moving towards carbon neutral steel production by 2030,” it said.

Liberty Steel Group is part of the GFG Alliance, a global group of energy, mining, metals, engineering, logistics and financial services businesses headquartered in London.

“While the plant requires upgrades to be restarted competitively, we see good potential for the business,” said GFG's executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta. "Bayou benefits from reliable access to supplies of recycled steel, competitive power prices and its own deep-water port.”

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The mill should eventually bring the group's total U.S. production capacity to 3 million tons a year, said Grant Quasha, GFG Alliance’s chief investment officer for North America. He said the group's U.S. goal is 5 million tons of steel a year.