Friday will be a fateful date for Liberty Steel in Liège, according to information from L’Echo. The Belgian media outlet reports that the provisional administrator could declare the company bankrupt on 19 May, as it is the end of the deadline set by the court. A declaration of bankruptcy is expected eight days later.
But after the failure of the three previous takeover plans, the Wallonia region could intervene. It would be ready to offer a loan of €20m for the steelmaker’s Liège activities. This concerns 560 jobs at the Flémalle and Tilleur sites. Liberty Steel would also put €20m on its side.
Important guarantees are however required.
“We have to protect our loan, but we still don’t know the exact nature of the guarantees that Greensill still has on Liberty’s Liège assets. We have asked for a written notification confirming that Greensill’s guarantees have been lifted on the Liège assets,” economy minister Willy Borsus told L’Echo. In addition, the region requires information on the industrial project of its Romanian branch.
This plan should only make it possible to “reopen a certain number of prospects”, but the €40m is considered insufficient to relaunch the activity on a permanent basis.
Liberty Steel also employs 170 people in Dudelange. A proposal to buy the Luxembourg site by the Société Nationale de Crédit et d'Investissement (SNCI), which envisaged a holding operation, was rejected last February.
In the wake of the collapse of Liberty Steel financier Greensill in the UK, the company ran into cashflow problems finally leading to a court on 13 April ordering the liquidation of its Liège plant.
The site is partnered with Liberty’s Dudelange steelworks, and the company relies on deliveries from Liège to function resulting in a near standstill for several months. The parent company in December signalled it was ready to part ways with the Luxembourg plant, which it had acquired from ArcelorMittal.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.