Ascoval: justice validates the “modified” recovery plan, the unions are divided

The Strasbourg commercial court validated Wednesday the modified takeover plan of the northern steel plant Ascoval by the British Olympus, weakened by the recent bankruptcy of British Steel, a decision variously welcomed by the unions.

Ascoval: justice validates the recovery plan

The Strasbourg commercial court validated on Wednesday the modified takeover plan of the northern steelworks Ascoval by the British Olympus, weakened by the recent bankruptcy of British Steel, a decision variously welcomed by the unions.

In its deliberation, the reasons for which were not immediately available, the commercial chamber of the Strasbourg tribunal de grande instance announced that it “granted the request for modification of the plan” presented last Friday by the British Olympus Ltd., buyer of the Saint-Saulve plant (North) and also parent company of British Steel.

“This is clearly the right solution, even if it is not a surprise for us, we worked for it”, rejoiced Me Guilhem Brémond, Ascoval’s lawyer, now called British Steel Saint-Saulve. since the acquisition by Olympus on May 2. The Strasbourg judges then validated the recovery plan, putting an end to months of uncertainty for northern employees.

The ace! Three weeks later, British Steel, number 2 in the sector behind Tata Steel, was declared bankrupt by the British authorities. A decision which does not directly impact the Saint-Saulve site but which has cast doubt on the solidity of the Olympus takeover case, which was therefore due to present an amended plan on Friday, including the consequences of this bankruptcy, and which has visibly convinced the judges.

Created in 1975 by the steelmaker Vallourec, which became Ascoval in 2017, the steelworks, which manufactures special steel tubes, had been waiting for a buyer since the judicial liquidation in February 2018 of the Asco Industries group, to which Vallourec had sold 60% of the factory.

“Good thing”, but…

“It’s a good thing that the plan is changed (…) we want to continue the activity because there are the means”, reacted Nacim Bardi, CGT delegate, insisting that Saint-Saulve currently has ‘an order book and “works without British Steel”.

Spokesman for the inter-union CFDT, CGT and CFE-CGC and CFDT delegate, Bruno Kopczynski sees things differently, and says he is “not reassured at all” by a plan “validated on enormous unknowns, hypotheses ”.

Olympus – and, ultimately, the investment fund Greybull Capital and its representative Marc Meyohas, who hold the reins – plans to sell the British Steel group to the cut, to keep only the site of Hayange (Moselle) and FN Steel (Netherlands), Saint-Saulve, where 270 people work, supplying them with steel.

More specifically, Greybull wishes to integrate under a single banner the activities of manufacturing rails (Hayange) and long steel (FN Steel) with those of Ascoval, according to the British daily Financial Times.

During the hearing on Friday, this plan was still relevant, Cédric Orban, director of Ascoval, and Bruno Kopczynski told AFP.

“Foolish”

Except that for Mr. Kopczynski, it rests on a “big uncertainty”. “We do not know when we are going to recover” FN Steel, nor “if we are going to recover it”, and “many questions, (…) in particular on funding, volumes” remain unanswered for the time being from ‘Olympus, worries the trade unionist, who would have preferred that the judges postpone their decision.

“As always, things are going a little too fast (…) we have very little confidence, it is already the second or third time that the commercial court has validated somewhat crappy plans and the employees are still suspicious and on who- vivacious ”, reacted Ludovic Bouvier, regional manager of CGT Métallurgie.

At the beginning of June, the lawyer for the CGT, Me Fiodor Rilov, announced two legal proceedings: one to “request the cancellation of the sale of the plant” by Vallourec, the other “to do all the work. light on the intentions and the strategic plan of British Steel ”and Greybull.

From now on, Bruno Kopczynski gives an appointment “in September, where things should move in England” on the side of British Steel. “Now we have to wait (…) we will continue in the dotted line for a long time,” he blurted out, fatalistic.

(with AFP)