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June 10, 2019

Liberty Steel further expands scope by acquiring Johnstown Wire Technologies

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Liberty Steel, part of the global GFG Alliance, further expanded its footprint in the U.S. steel downstream products market with the acquisition of Johnstown Wire Technologies (JWT) in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

A press release notes that JWT is the largest producer of value-added carbon and alloy wire in North America, and that the deal “gives Liberty valuable capacity to manufacture a range of high-value carbon and alloy wire products for multiple end markets including the infrastructure, automotive, utility and consumer sectors.”

The Johnstown plant, described as an advanced manufacturing facility, has some 250 employees, the release said. They will complement Liberty’s melting and rolling operations at Georgetown, South Carolina, and Peoria, Illinois. Combined with its scrap processing plant in Tampa, Florida, the acquisition “will firmly embed the business along the full value chain in the U.S. steel market.”

Liberty Steel entered the U.S. market in 2017 by acquiring ArcelorMittal’s Georgetown Steel mill and followed up with the purchase of Keystone Consolidated Industries, including its flagship Peoria mill, in 2018.

“Today’s announcement marks another major step by Liberty towards its target of quickly becoming a market leader in the American wire rod sector,” the release said. It noted that the 638,000-sq-foot Johnstown site has been a high-profile steel manufacturing facility for more than a century, and that it is a top-three U.S. producer of the types of steel that will be needed to modernize America’s aging infrastructure: CHQ, electro-galvanized, aluminized and spring wire.

JWT currently holds the number one market position in the electro-galvanized and aluminized sectors, the release said. “Liberty Steel intends to drive growth at JWT as the U.S. updates its infrastructure and electricity networks, thereby increasing demand for steel products such as support cables and guard rails for bridges and for electrical power lines.”

With more than half of JWT’s output sold into the transportation market, Liberty is also aiming to capitalize on continued growth in U.S. vehicle production, the release said. It is the third largest producer in the U.S. of CHQ wire, which is used in automotive products such as engine block bolts and brake pad rivets. The acquisition will also add substantially to Liberty’s capability to meet the “Made in America” specifications required for public infrastructure and utility contracts.

“This is another very significant step towards our ambitious U.S. goals,” said GFC Chief Investment Officer Grant Quasha. “JWT is a profitable business with a skilled workforce and tremendous pedigree in the industry, so we look forward to welcoming it into the GFG USA family and helping it build an even stronger future.”

GFG Group Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said that he was thrilled with the deal. “The addition of high-quality specialized facilities at Johnstown further strengthens our existing facilities at Georgetown and Peoria.”

“We are excited to be joining the GFG family of global businesses and see this as a tremendous opportunity to further our position as a leading manufacturer of steel wire in North America,” said Johnstown Wire Technologies President and CEO Jack Miller.

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