Sanjeev Gupta’s global GFG Alliance has completed its purchase of Aluminium Dunkerque, Europe’s largest aluminium smelter.
The London-headquartered Alliance said the acquisition of the plant – to be renamed Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque – now paves the way for a downstream investment programme at the plant in order to maximise the value of the aluminium currently made there.
GFG aims to make the Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque 570-worker smelter, bought from Rio Tinto for around US$500m, a foundation for a wider integrated manufacturing business serving the French and European markets.
To this end, GFG is carrying out feasibility studies on developing from Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque a wider integrated manufacturing business, producing components for the automotive and other growing industries in France centred around the existing 285,000-tonne-a-year smelting operations at Dunkerque.
Today’s completion follows GFG’s acquisition earlier this year of France’s only remaining producer of aluminium vehicle wheels, AR Industries - now called Liberty Wheels France – which was already a key customer of the Dunkerque smelter. The deal marked a significant move into the French downstream manufacturing sector and saved over 90 percent of the jobs at the Chateauroux plant.
The acquisition of Aluminium Dunkerque adds to GFG’s credentials as a significant foreign direct investor in France. The company has moved into new offices on Avenue Kleber in central Paris and the business development team is targeting several other development opportunities in the French industrial, energy and financial sectors.
Liberty has been supported by a syndicate of international banks with a US$350m term loan facility. The banking syndicate was led by Bank of America Merril Lynch with participation from BNP Paribas, ICBC, ICBC Standard Bank, Morgan Stanley, Natixis, Barclays Bank PLC, Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada. Liberty was advised on the transaction by Clyde & Co and Norton Rose with regards to legal matters and Grant Thornton UK LLP in regards to accounting matters.
GFG Executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “Today is a real milestone in our European investment journey and the fulfilment of our promise to establish a firm foundation for a new vibrant and integrated industrial business in France that will create high-value products that sustain high-value jobs.
“Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque and Liberty Wheels France provide excellent facilities, expertise and skilled workforces that enable us to grow strongly through long-term investments. The studies for Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque’s investment in added-value aluminium have confirmed our initial assumptions and we’ll continue our work on developing the investment programme.
“It is a great pleasure to welcome the Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque workforce into the worldwide GFG family and we look forward to mutual sharing of experience and resources across borders that will enable us to expand powerfully in key industries such as the automotive sector. We would like to thank those who have worked with us to reach this point, particularly the Works Council, trade unions, French Government and Hauts-de-France region,” he added.
Jay Hambro, Chief Investment Officer of the GFG Alliance said: “Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque is a high-performing, profitable asset with modern equipment, excellent transport connections to key markets and high-skilled workforces. There is great potential for expansion, further modernisation and the application of GFG’s GREENALUMINIUM strategy.
“Following our entry to France as an aluminium producer, we look forward to working with partners to introduce other GFG businesses to these jurisdictions. We’re eager to explore opportunities for SIMEC’s infrastructure, resources and highly-successful renewable energy teams as well as our financial services team at Wyelands and real estate specialists in JAHAMA’s as part of a holistic GFG offer.”
Managing Director of Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque, Guillaume de Goÿs, added: “Aluminium Dunkerque is very pleased to be joining GFG, a move which creates valuable opportunities for our employees and partners. We fully support the GFG strategy to become a Centre of Excellence for Aluminium. Together, we will build an ambitious future, continue to be the supplier of choice for our customers and develop Aluminum Dunkerque in a responsible and sustainable way.