Rio Tinto had put the facilities on the market in 2012.
The German aluminum producer Trimet has agreed to acquire two of Rio Tinto’s aluminum plants in France. The plants had become high-cost producers, and Rio Tinto had been seeking to sell the facilities as a way to reduce its overall costs. The two facilities are located in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Castelsarrasin.
For Trimet, the acquisitions allows the company to extend its portfolio of specialized light metal products. The deal with Rio Tinto is conditional upon the approval of the regulatory authorities and the execution of an energy supply agreement and a partnership arrangement with Electricite de France (EDF).
The production plants were set up by the French aluminum manufacturer Pechiney, which had been taken over by Rio Tinto Alcan. The aluminum plants produce aluminum wire rod that is used to make electric cabling for the energy industry and connecting elements for the automobile industry, among other things.
Under the arrangement, Trimet will take 65 percent of Rio Tinto's aluminum smelter in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in eastern France and a manufacturer of aluminum wires in Castelsarrasin in southwestern France, while EDF will take a 35 percent stake. French state-owned investment bank BPI may later take a minority stake. The parts didn't disclose the amount paid for the takeover.
"We are both delighted and proud that we can contemplate maintaining production and saving jobs in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Castelsarrasin," says Heinz-Peter Schlüter, owner and chairman of Trimet Aluminium SE’s supervisory board. "The sites fit in perfectly with Trimet's strategic orientation. This applies to the qualified staff as much as to technical standards and the superior products. The terms of the transaction also allow us to envisage reliable, long-term investment plans."
The purchase agreement will secure, among other things, the long-term supply of aluminum oxide and electric power, key requirements for the production of aluminum. The energy supplier EDF will take a minority stake in the production plants. Trimet hopes to develop its successful corporate policy of the past few years with the new sites. "There is enormous demand for aluminum wire rod in the manufacturing industry in Europe. As a provider of complex alloys and customized solutions, this product group will enable us to strengthen our core competence as a supplier of special products on a long-term basis," says Martin Iffert, CEO of Trimet.