Economy minister Franz Fayot (second from left) during a press conference on 21 April announcing plans for the future of Paul Wurth under new ownership. Photo: Matic Zorman
SMS Group, the German owner of Luxembourg steel industry company Paul Wurth, has pledged to maintain jobs and the grand duchy headquarters for at least 15 years, economy minister Franz Fayot said during a meeting on 26 April.
SMS earlier this month finalised a complete takeover of Paul Wurth after previously owning nearly 60% of the business. It sought out the Luxembourg state to acquire the remaining 40.8%, which the government had bought in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
As part of the transaction, SMS has committed to keep around 330 jobs in Luxembourg as well as upholding essential activities and the governance structure of the Luxembourg-based company, Fayot told members of parliament, according to an official statement.
Despite no longer being a stakeholder, the state will keep two seats on the board of directors.
The new German owners plan to regroup research on decarbonisation and steel recycling in Luxembourg as well as developing the use of hydrogen in steelmaking. Paul Wurth recently signed an agreement with the University of Luxembourg to help fund a professorship dedicated to energy process engineering, including research on hydrogen and carbon neutral industrial processing.
Labour unions and opposition parties including the CSV and déi Lénk had opposed the company passing into foreign ownership completely.
Fayot called SMS Group’s plans for Paul Wurth a “promising direction for the future.” The value of the transaction hasn’t been disclosed but Fayot previously called it “appropriate and attractive.”
While Paul Wurth has a new owner, the land it owns in the Hollerich district--where some of its industrial activities used to be located and which is still home to the company HQ--will remain in a separate entity co-owned by Paul Wurth, SMS, the state and state-owned entities, the Spuerkeess and public lender SNCI.