Liberty Steel Group confirms it is to sell its Stocksbridge business placing future of 1,500 jobs in doubt

Liberty Steel Group has placed its aerospace and steel business in South Yorkshire up for sale as part of a major restructuring that places the future of some 1,500 jobs in doubt.

The company has started a formal sale process for its plant at Stocksbridge near Sheffield, as well as Coventry’s Liberty Pressing Solutions, and Liberty Aluminium Technologies, which has sites in Essex and Kidderminster.

It will also try to sell its manufacturing facilities in Brinsworth, South Yorkshire, and in West Bromwich.

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The aerospace and special alloys steel business in Stocksbridge was described as “a unique, high quality business servicing marquee customers in aerospace, auto and other highly engineered applications,” the business said.

Liberty's plant in Rotherham.

However it is not a core part of Liberty’s Greensteel plan to create more environmentally-friendly steel.

By selling, Liberty hopes it can focus on scaling up its plant in Rotherham to make two million tonnes of green steel, with the business saying it wanted it to be one of the biggest such plants in Europe.

It said: “This sale will allow Liberty to focus on developing its Rotherham plant including its electric arc furnaces into a competitive 2 million tonnes recycled Greensteel plant, one of the largest in Europe.

“The plant will make use of some of the millions of tonnes of steel scrap currently exported by the UK to make more of the quality steel needed in the UK, which is currently being imported.

“As part of this restructuring Liberty will look to sell its, which while being a unique, high quality business servicing marquee customers in aerospace, auto and other highly engineered applications, is not core to the GREENSTEEL vision of Liberty.”

It comes as part of a major restructuring following the collapse of Greensill Capital in March this year.

When the financing company went into administration, its lawyers revealed that it had around five billion dollars (£3.5 billion) of exposure to Liberty’s parent company GFG Alliance.

It sparked worries about Liberty’s future, and that of its 5,000 UK staff.

However Liberty said that it could protect thousands of jobs by restructuring the business.

The announcement follows a weekend of meetings in Dubai between GFG founder Sanjeev Gupta – once hailed as the hope of UK steel – and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

The two sides have reached a so-called standstill agreement over Liberty Primary Metals Australia.

A spokesperson for the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee said: “Stocksbridge and its downstream plants are strategically important businesses vital to our country’s defence, energy and aerospace sectors.

“Liberty must act as a responsible seller and run a transparent sales process which fully engages the trade unions.

“We will expect to meet any potential buyer to scrutinise their plans and test their commitment to the workforce and our industry.”

Steel has been produced in Stocksbridge since the 1850s.

Liberty acquired the plant from former owners Tata in 2017 as part of a £100m deal for its entire operations.