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Barrett Steel acquires Aartee Bright Bar

Aartee Bright Bar (ABB) administrators Alvarez & Marsal Europe have sold the insolvent UK engineering steel distributor to Barrett Steel Limited for £13 million ($16m).

The acquisition encompasses Aartee Bright Bar Limited’s distribution business, located in Rugby, Bolton, Newport and Southampton, and its Bright Bar business operating out of Willenhall, as well as Aartee Bright Bar Property Limited’s freehold and leasehold interests at these sites. As a result of the sale, 173 jobs have been saved.

However, Aartee Bright Bar Limited’s Hot Rolled business in Dudley is not included in the transaction and will be wound up, leading to 45 redundancies and the closure of the site.

“This substantial investment from Barrett Steel is a vote of confidence in the business and the wider UK steel industry. The Companies’ creditors will now receive a substantial dividend and will have the opportunity to trade with the new business going forward,” Alvarez & Marsal managing director Michael Magnay says in a note sent to Kallanish.

Barrett Steel chief financial officer Marcus Tyldsley says his firm is “delighted” with the acquisition “as part of our ongoing expansion strategy”.

Bradford-based Barrett Steel is the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder. The firm recently announced plans to build a £10m dedicated steel distribution centre at its Groveport site in North Lincolnshire (see Kallanish passim). The firm’s revenue in 2021, the latest figures available, rose 44% on-year to £440.99m, while net profit was £41.11m versus a year-earlier loss of £5.5m.

Jeffrey Kabel, chief transformation officer at Liberty Steel, whose parent GFG sought to buy Aartee Bright Bar out of administration earlier this month, says GFG’s business plan “would have rescued ABB in its entirety, saved all its 250 employees and ensured its continuation as a going concern. Within hours of this development we’ve witnessed the devastating impact of the decision with the announcement of immediate layoffs of all employees at ABB’s steel plant in Dudley.”

“We struggle to see the logic in this outcome which has put short-term gain for a selected few ahead of the long-term interest of the UK steel industry and its workforce,” Kabel adds.

Adam Smith Poland