Cleveland-based Aleris Corp., a secondary and rolled aluminum producer, has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Zhongwang USA LLC. Aleris is being acquired for $2.33 billion, comprising $1.11 billion in cash for the equity to be paid by Zhongwang USA, plus $1.22 billion in net debt. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017 following regulatory approvals and the finalization of closing conditions.
Zhongwang USA LLC is an investment company majority-owned by Liu Zhongtian through Zhongwang International Group Ltd., parent company of China Zhongwang, which bills itself as the world’s second largest industrial aluminum extrusion developer and manufacturer.
Aleris says it will continue to be headquartered in Cleveland and will be operated as an independent entity. The Aleris management team will remain in place, providing continuity for Aleris employees and customers and supporting the continued implementation of the Aleris strategy, according to a company news release.
Aleris says it will retain its name and “will continue to serve its customers with no changes to current operations, contracts or commitments.” It will continue to implement growth projects, including its expansion project in Lewisport, Kentucky, designed to enable the company to meet the North American automotive industry's demand for aluminum auto body sheet.
“We are excited about this transition to strategic ownership as it will allow us to accelerate our strategy to expand our capabilities to support the production of high-value advanced materials for the global automotive and aerospace markets, while maintaining our position as a leading supplier to critical regional markets like building and construction,” says Sean Stack, president and CEO of Aleris. “We expect the transition to be seamless for our employees and customers, and that the new strategic shareholder will provide us with greater financial flexibility to continue to anticipate and meet the needs of our customers well into the future.”
Zhongwang USA says its acquisition of Aleris reflects Liu’s commitment to disciplined operating investments over the long term in an industry to which he has been committed for two decades, Aleris says in the news release. In addition to his role at Zhongwang USA, Liu also is the chairman and founder of China Zhongwang. With the acquisition of Aleris, Liu will oversee companies that have complementary geographic footprints and capabilities, according to the Aleris news release.
“This acquisition is an international expansion to establish a complementary business foothold, as I strongly believe in the potential and prospects of Aleris and the aluminum industry as a whole,” Liu says. “Aleris has a strong management team, talented employees and industry leading capabilities with a complementary geographic footprint. As the company enters the final phase of its Lewisport automotive project, I believe Aleris is well positioned to capitalize on the positive demand trends we see globally, and I look forward to supporting the Aleris management team in implementing its growth strategies and pursuing continued success with expanded resources and financial and operational flexibility.”
Since 2010, Aleris has been owned and controlled by a group led by certain investment funds of Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management LP. Affiliates of New York-based Apollo Global Management LP and Sankaty Advisors LLC, now known as Bain Capital Credit, with U.S. offices in Boston, Chicago and New York, own minority interests.
In late 2014, Aleris sold its North American and European Recycling and Specification Alloys businesses to an affiliate of Sherman Oaks, California-based Signature Group Holdings, splitting the company that it created in 2004 when it merged Kentucky’s Commonwealth Aluminum with Texas-based IMCO Recycling.
The sale included 18 production facilities in North America and six in Europe. The facilities engage in secondary aluminum smelting and the production of specification alloy products. Signature agreed to pay an aggregate of $525 million for the businesses in the form of $465 million in cash, with the remainder in cash and preferred shares of Signature Group Holdings.