final stretch for the restart, British Steel big favorite

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The commercial chamber of the TGI of Strasbourg must examine, Wednesday, April 24, the offers of recovery of the steelworks of Saint-Saulve. Among the four candidates, the group led by the Meyohas brothers holds the rope.

By Philippe Jacqué Posted today at 14h25

Time to Reading 2 min.

At the Ascoval steel mill in Saint-Saulve (Nord), near Valenciennes, in November 2018.
At the Ascoval steel mill in Saint-Saulve (Nord), near Valenciennes, in November 2018. Pascal Rossignol / REUTERS

This is the last straight for the 270 employees of the Ascoval steel mill in Saint-Saulve (North). After four years of turmoil, their future should finally clear. The commercial chamber of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) in Strasbourg will examine, Wednesday, April 24, the four files of recovery filed by the groups British Steel, Calvi Network, the Secufund fund and the contractor Pascal Cochez.

Two months after the abandonment of Ascoval by his last buyer named Altifort, magistrates should give themselves a few days to choose the best offer. However, one of them stands out frankly in the minds of Ascoval's leaders and unions: British Steel, a group that achieved in 2018 a turnover of 1.4 billion pounds (1.6 billion euros).

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"Of the four cases, for the moment, only British Steel has improved its offer, both in terms of funding and social commitments", says a close negotiations. The group would put on the table 47 million euros, which would be matched by an equivalent sum of public authorities.

The case of the Italian Calvi Network, specialist special steels, which needs a new steel supplier, is also well seen, but he still had to get the green light from one of its shareholders Tuesday. As for the last two files, they remain incomplete.

Environmental performance

In fact, at the steel mill, trust was needed before the hearing. The prospect of being taken over by British Steel, owned by Greybull Capital, the fund managed by the French brothers Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas, reassures. It would be ready to bring 200,000 to 300,000 tons of steel orders to supply, among other things, its Hayange (Moselle) rail production site. This is half of Ascoval's annual production capacity, which will cover the fixed costs of the site. "It's a beautiful project that is socially, industrially and financially sound", we summarize in Saint-Saulve.

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The motives of British Steel are twofold. "This derives first from Brexit," assures a connoisseur of the file. With the majority of its steel mills located in the United Kingdom, the steelmaker, which supplies the railways in particular SNCF, must produce in the euro zone not to depend on customs duties and to attenuate the fluctuations of the pound sterling.

In addition, British Steel is interested in the French steel mill for its environmental performance. "The steel mill is much less emissive of CO2 [dioxyde de carbone] than a traditional steelworks, sums up a source. While Escoval releases 200 kilograms of CO2 In the atmosphere for every tonne of steel produced, the traditional steel coke plant, like that of Scunthorpe (north-east of England), which belongs to British Steel, emits 1.8 tons. "In the medium term, with the increase in the prices of carbon credits, it should count and British Steel has every interest in diversifying its production"concludes an observer.

Philippe Jacqué

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