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The Bekaert Group announced that it will phase out its U.S. steel wire operations at its Shelbyville plant in Kentucky, laying off approximately a hundred employees.

A press release said that Bekaert intends to phase out the steel wire production at the plant by January 2020. The Shelbyville plant makes steel wire for various applications and markets, including the construction, consumer goods and various industrial sectors.

“External developments in demand and pricing trends have had a negative impact on the profitability and competitive position of Bekaert Shelbyville over the past years, calling for a realignment of our steel wire solutions activities in the country,” the release said. The Dramix® production line serving concrete reinforcement markets will remain in Shelbyville until a permanent location is determined.

Some of the product lines made at Shelbyville will be moved to two other U.S. Bekaert plants—Van Buren, Arkansas, and Orrville, Ohio—while others will be stopped or sourced and distributed through alternative channels. The plan is to extend the manufacturing operations in Van Buren and Orrville with the respective technology and expertise.

“Management regrets the need to implement this measure, but sees no other option to safeguard a long-term competitive position of its steel wire activities in North America,” the release said. “The business conditions have trended lower in various sectors as a result of tighter markets and continued uncertainty. Our tire markets held up well in the first nine months of 2019 but are expected to slow down in the fourth quarter as a result of the normal seasonality and destocking actions throughout the supply chain in anticipation of a continued weak business climate. The steel wire solutions activities are projected to further contract in the last quarter, mainly because of the impact of the social protest actions in Latin America, trade tariffs, and further economic slowdown globally. We do not foresee a downturn in construction markets other than the usual seasonality impact and we expect the business environment of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group to remain challenging.

In this scenario of economic slowdown and year-end seasonality, Bekaert continues to implement actions to offset the external headwinds, said the release, which focused on specific elements. “These actions are focused on managing cost, pricing, mix and footprint and aim to deliver an improvement of the underlying business performance. We are also further improving our working capital level and debt position and are well on track to bring our debt leverage below 2.5 by year-end.”

Jingye Steel has entered into a deal to buy British Steel, which had previously agreed to be sold to a buyer—Oyak, a Turkish army pension fund—that later dropped its offer because the operations were not commercially viable.

Per published reports, China’s Jingye Steel, via its U.K. operations, has entered into a contract to buy British Steel. British Steel’s Official Receiver and others part of the process, confirmed that contracts have been entered into with Jingye Steel (UK) Ltd. and Jingye Steel (UK) Holding Ltd., to acquire the business and assets of British Steel Limited in liquidation, including the steelworks at Scunthorpe and U.K. mills and the subsidiary businesses of FN Steel, British Steel France and TSP Engineering.

The deal has yet to be finalized, and is conditional on items that include regulatory approvals and certain employee consultation procedures. “The parties are working together to conclude a sale as soon as reasonably practicable...and the business will continue to trade as normal, during the period between exchange and completion, whilst assisting Jingye to plan for the future.”

Per the reports, Jingye is a privately owned Chinese corporation founded and led by Li Ganpo a former senior Communist Party official who became a self-made industrial tycoon. His Jingye Group has interests in steel and manufacturing, chemicals, real estate, finance, trade, pharmaceutical, hotels and tourism. It has more than 22,000 employees.

Briish Steel, which includes wire rod in its product mix, was described as Britain’s second largest steelmaker after Tata Steel. The steelmaker was put into liquidation in May, years after being acquired by private equity firm Greybull Capital LLP for 1 pound.

The offer from Oyak has been reported as having been between $73 million and $85 million. At one point, Oyak had told The Guardian that it was considering doubling the production capacity of British Steel.

U.S.-based Lee Spring reports that it has acquired Longcroft Engineering, a U.K. manufacturer of custom springs that has a plant in Todmorden, Lancashire.

A press release said that Longcroft Engineering "has been a key strategic partner of Lee Spring for any years, with a complementary skill set that is a natural fit for the enhancement of our global operations."

Lee Spring CEO Steve Kemp said that "the acquisition of Longcroft Engineering expands our capabilities to support continued growth within the U.K. and across the greater European market. They are a talented team with broad spring manufacturing experience and particular expertise in short-run prototyping of complex springs made from both wire as well as flat materials."

Longcroft Engineering, which will continue to serve customers from its facility in Todmorden, will now also have access to a wider range of capabilities through Lee Spring’s global manufacturing operations, the release said. "This acquisition enhances the offering available to Lee Spring customers worldwide with expanded manufacturing operations located in the U.K."

The Prysmian Group announced that it has received a binding offer from Carlisle Companies Incorporated for the acquisition of the business of Draka Fileca SAS (Fileca) in a transaction valued at €73 million.

A press release said that Fileca, which was acquired by Prysmian in 2011 as part of the Draka acquisition, is a global supplier of highly engineered cables for the aerospace and space end markets. Based in France, it generates revenues of €44 million and reported adjusted EBITDA of approximately €5 million in 2018. Fileca, provided first generations of aerospace cables to the Concorde program.

The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2020.

TPC Wire & Cable Corp. (TPC), a business of Audax Private Equity, announced that it has completed the acquisitions of Cicoil LLC and Pittsburgh Wire & Cable.

A press release said that the addition of Cicoil, which makes flat cable and flat and round cable assemblies for sectors such as medical and defense, will help TPC expand its market reach and strengthen its portfolio of specialized wire and cable solutions. "We continue to execute our strategy of combining above market organic growth with acquisitions that diversify our product and service capabilities as well as the end markets we serve," said TPC President & CEO Jeff Crane.

In a separate release, TPC reported that it had acquired Pittsburgh Wire & Cable (PWC). Founded in 1992, PWC is a stocking distributor of industrial and commercial wire, cable and accessories that was described as having "an extensive inventory, strong industry partnerships and a rigorous quality management system."

Fort Wayne Metals, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has completed the company’s €10 million expansion of its facility in Ireland, an investment that could eventually create up to 80 new jobs at its plant in Castlebar.

Per IDA Ireland and online reports, the 20,000-sq-ft expansion will bolster Fort Wayne Metals’ development of revolutionary materials for medical devices. In 2002, Fort Wayne Metals first established the plant in Castlebar, where it now employs 95 people who help manufacture products for medical device companies in Ireland, Europe and Asia. The expansion represents the next stage of growth for the company with its product diversification strategy focused on the manufacture and supply of specialty alloys such as nitinol (nickel-titanium).

The official opening was lauded by dignitaries. "This major investment shows the company is committed for the long term," said Leo Eric Varadkar, the current Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland. "Essential components for medical devices which can improve and save lives are manufactured here and sold around the world. Congratulations to the local staff and management team who will be joined by 80 new employees over the next five years. The government, through IDA Ireland, will continue to work with Fort Wayne as the company expands in the years ahead."

"This expansion is a testament to the hard work and talent of our Irish employees," said Fort Wayne Metals CEO Scott Glaze. "Their expertise and dedication have been fundamental to the growth of Fort Wayne Metals Ireland, and I have every confidence that they will be successful as they take on the challenges of manufacturing precision nitinol wire for our customers around the world."

Fort Wayne Metals is a privately held company with 12 manufacturing plants. Fort Wayne Metals Ireland is the corporation’s only manufacturing facility outside the U.S.

Leggett & Platt has served notice to state officials in Florida that it plans to close its steel wire plant in Jacksonville, which will result in the loss of 101 jobs.

A report in the Jax Daily Record said that the 150,000-sq-ft plant is owned by Adcom Wire Co., an affiliate of Leggett & Platt. The plant was built in 1980 and expanded in 1999. The layoffs, will be closed by the end of the year. The staff there includes 82 production and support employees, 14 managers and five administrative and clerical workers. Some employees will remain into the first quarter of 2020 to help with the closing.

A name change for Mexichem Specialty Compounds should be an easy one for customers as it is a return to the former name of AlphaGary.

A press release said that Mexichem, the parent company, has changed its name to Orbia, but the specialty compounds unit will use the name AlphaGary. "We are committed to being your valued supply partner today and into the future, and we believe our reconnection with the AlphaGary identity clearly underlines our dedication to this effort," said AlphaGary General Manger Daniel DeLisle.

Motherson Sumi Systems (MSSL) reports that one of its subsidiaries, Motherson PKC Harness Systems, is building a new factory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Per an online announcement by MarketLine, a ground-breaking ceremony at the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) was held recently for the launch of the project. "We are very glad to have taken this important step of setting up our manufacturing facility in the fast-growing emirate of Ras Al Khaimah mark the beginning of factory construction and operations are expected to commence in the second quarter of 2020," said MSSL Chairman Vivek Chaand Sehgal. "This provides us great opportunities for larger exposure to the global markets."

The story said that the factory is being built on a 21,000-sq-m parcel. In addition to wire harnesses, the plant will also produce rear view mirrors and have injection molding capacity.

MSSL was established as a joint venture partnership with Japan’s Sumitomo Wiring Systems. Its scope includes wiring harnesses, high tension cords, battery cables and high level assemblies. In 2017, it acquired Finland’s PKC Group Plc, a global tier 1 supplier of wiring harness and associated components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the heavy and medium duty commercial vehicles and locomotive segments across North America, Europe, Brazil and China.

RAKEZ, one of the 45 free economic zones in the Gulf nation, has 14,500 companies from 100 countries operating in 50 industries.

Nexans has won a contract from McDermott Marine Construction Limited to supply approximately 100 km of subsea umbilicals and accessories for a West African offshore project.

A press release said that the order is for the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim natural gas project, which will be 120 km offshore of the bordering countries of Mauritania and Senegal. Nexans will provide management, procurement, engineering, manufacturing and testing activities for the umbilicals and ancillary hardware. The electrical cables and fiber optics will be manufactured at Nexans Norway plant in Rognan, and the umbilicals will be developed, manufactured and tested at Nexans Norway specialized plant in Halden. The delivery will take place in 2021.

The Tortue field has a water depth of 2,850 m, the release said. The production system ties back some 70 km to a spread moored floating production storage and offloading) unit at the shelf edge at a water depth of 100-120 m. The gas will travel 35 km to a near-shore hub and terminal facility to be liquefied and offloaded to LNG carriers.

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