Liberty House Group is set to continue its expansion in the UK steel market with the acquisition of two of Tata Steel UK’s pipe mills in Hartlepool.
The 42-inch and 84-inch longitudinal submerged arc welded (LSAW) mills make heavy-duty steel pipe for the energy, power and construction industries, but have suffered in recent years due to market forces. According to Liberty, the deal will involve a support package to safeguard the 140 jobs at the mills, as well as to recruit more staff, upskill the workforce and develop new products. Tata will retain ownership of the 20-inch pipe mill located there, as it is connected to the company’s strip products business and steelmaking in Port Talbot.
The deal comes just a week after Liberty announced it had acquired Caparo Merchant Bar’s (CMB) two rolling mills at Scunthorpe, securing 145 jobs. In May, Liberty took over Tata Specialty Steels in South Yorkshire, claiming it would not only protect the existing 1,700 jobs, but would add an extra 300 as part of the £100m deal. The acquisition of the Hartlepool mills will bring Liberty’s UK workforce close to 5,000 people, spread across more than 30 sites.
The international metals group, headquartered in Mayfair, London, is also part of a consortium that recently acquired the Arrium Group, an Australian mining and commodities company that went into administration last year. According to Liberty, its newly expanded portfolio of facilities will deliver synergies, providing an end-to-end capability to supply the energy industry with steel pipe.
“Hartlepool has world class LSAW pipe mills, and a skilled workforce, with a long history and recognition worldwide,” said Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group. “This step will inspire investments not only in Hartlepool but also in our upstream plate mill at Dalzell (Scotland), and potentially also slab from the steel shop at Whyalla in Australia (Arrium Group) in due course, to give us a fully-integrated world-class capability to supply pipeline projects.”
“The Hartlepool pipe business has faced difficulties in recent times due to the downturn in the UK oil and gas sector but we are eager to begin working with management and staff here to regain former market share and explore expansion into new areas. These mills can be a symbol of a new Britain, integrated with the world economy, exporting a world-class product globally once again. We aim to engage with all customers of the business locally and internationally to regain our market share.”