Liberty Steel acquires Johnstown Wire Technologies
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Liberty Steel acquires Johnstown Wire Technologies

Move consolidates the company’s U.S. wire market leadership.

June 10, 2019

Liberty Steel, part of London-based GFG Alliance, has purchased Johnstown Wire Technologies (JWT), Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from Aterian Investment Partners, New York, expanding its footprint in the U.S. steel downstream products market. JWT, which was owned by Bethlehem Steel Corp. until 1992, is the largest producer of value-added carbon and alloy wire in North America, according to the news release issued by GFG Alliance announcing the purchase.

Group equity and loans from PNC Business Credit financed the transaction, which gives Liberty the capacity to manufacture a range of high-value carbon and alloy wire products for multiple end markets, including the infrastructure, automotive, utility and consumer sectors.

The Johnstown facility employs 250 people and will complement Liberty’s melting and rolling operations at Georgetown, South Carolina, and Peoria, Illinois, GFG Alliance says. Combined with its scrap processing plant, Export Metals, in Tampa, Florida, the purchase embeds the business along the full value chain in the U.S. steel market.

GFG Alliance says the 638,000-square-foot Johnstown site is among the three largest U.S. producers of the types of steel that will be needed to modernize America’s aging infrastructure: cold heading quality (CHQ), electro-galvanized, aluminized and spring wire. JWT currently holds the No. 1 market position in the electro-galvanized and aluminized sectors, the company adds.

Liberty Steel intends to drive growth at JWT as the U.S. updates its infrastructure and electricity networks, thereby increasing demand for steel products that include support cables and guard rails for bridges and for electrical power lines, GHG Alliance says.

Eoghan Mortell, a media relations representative with Liberty House Group, says, "We're aware that significant investment has taken place at JWT over recent years, and we will be assessing what is required in order to keep the plant at the forefront of the carbon and alloy wire product market. We are committed to investing to sustain the market-leading position of the business." 

More than half of JWT’s output is sold into the transportation market, the company says. It is the third largest producer in the U.S. of CHQ wire, which is used in automotive products that include engine block bolts and brake pad rivets.

The acquisition will also add substantially to Liberty’s capability to meet the "Made in America" specifications required for public infrastructure and utility contracts.

Grant Quasha, chief investment officer, GFG in North America, says, “This is another very significant step towards our ambitious U.S. goals. JWT is a profitable business with a skilled workforce and tremendous pedigree in the industry, so we look forward to welcoming it into the GFG USA family and helping it build an even stronger future.”

“We are excited to be joining the GFG family of global businesses and see this as a tremendous opportunity to further our position as a leading manufacturer of steel wire in North America,” Jack Miller, president and CEO of JWT, says.

Mortell says, "We are looking forward to working with the management team who have built the success of JWT over recent years and supporting them as appropriate from the wider GFG Alliance."

Sanjeev Gupta, GFG Group executive chairman, says, “It’s a great pleasure to welcome 250 highly skilled new members to our family. Integration upstream and downstream with value-added product manufacturing is an absolute core to our U.S. steel strategy. The addition of high-quality specialized facilities at Johnstown further strengthens our existing facilities at Georgetown and Peoria.”

Mortell says Liberty intends to retain all the Johnstown employees.

Liberty entered the U.S. market in 2017 with its purchase of ArcelorMittal’s Georgetown mill. It then purchased Keystone Consolidated Industries, including its flagship Peoria mill, in 2018.