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EC approves Liberty House Group purchase of ArcelorMittal's divestment businesses

Christian Fernsby |
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, Liberty House Group as a suitable purchaser of several ArcelorMittal steel plants, sold under commitments made by ArcelorMittal in order to buy Ilva.

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The Commission has also approved the transaction itself under EU merger rules.

In May 2018, the Commission approved the acquisition of Ilva by ArcelorMittal subject to conditions.

In particular, ArcelorMittal was required to sell a large package of steel plant assets to a suitable purchaser.

The divestiture was proposed by ArcelorMittal to address the Commission's concerns regarding effective competition in European hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanised flat carbon steel markets.

The package of assets that ArcelorMittal chose and committed to divest consists of a number of production sites throughout Europe.

The divested production sites cover the whole value chain, from liquid steel manufacturing to the production of finished flat carbon steel products, including hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanised steel.

Thus, the divestment includes not only finishing lines but capacity for the production of liquid steel at two integrated steelworks that are also able to expand their production.

ArcelorMittal notified to the Commission its choice of Liberty House to purchase the assets.

The Commission's purchaser review exercise has been extensive, listening to the views of multiple stakeholders and scrutinising the proposal very closely.

The Commission initially had serious prima facie concerns about the proposal.

In particular, in ArcelorMittal's initial submissions the acquisition was highly dependent on borrowed money, including from ArcelorMittal, and part of the purchase price was contingent on the assets' performance.

Furthermore, certain assets that had to be divested under the Commitments had been carved out.

Based on the Commission's investigation and feedback, ArcelorMittal made significant improvements during the review process that allowed the Commission to conclude that the sale would comply with the commitments ArcelorMittal gave to the Commission as a condition for approval to acquire Ilva.

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