New jobs forecast in provisional deal for UK's largest steel pipe mill
Liberty House has sealed a provisional agreement with Tata Steel to buy Britain's biggest steel pipe mill in Hartlepool.
The global metals group said the undisclosed deal will secure the future of 140 jobs and lead to the recruitment of more staff at the mills.
It follows Liberty's £100 million swoop to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK, a move which is expected to create 300 new jobs and lead to a string of multimillion-pound investments to secure the future of five plants.
The Hartlepool mills make heavy-duty steel piping for the energy and construction industries both in the UK and abroad.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said the steel mill would become an "important addition" to the group.
He said: "The Hartlepool pipes business has faced difficulties in recent times due to the downturn in the UK oil and gas sector but we are eager to begin working with management and staff here to regain former market share and explore expansion into new areas.
"These mills can be a symbol of a new Britain, integrated with the world economy, exporting a world-class product globally once again."
The buy-out would see Liberty take on the 42-inch and 84-inch heavy-duty pipe mills producing more than 250,000-tonnes a year.
However, the nearby 20-inch mill, which makes high frequency induction pipes, would continue to be owned by Tata Steel because of its links to the firm's strip products business in Port Talbot, Wales.
As well as creating new jobs, Liberty said the deal would "spell good news" for its Scottish plate mills in Dalzell and Clydebridge, which will be able to supply steel plate to the Hartlepool mills.
Mr Gupta added: "Hartlepool has world-class LSAW pipe mills, and a skilled workforce, with a long history and recognition worldwide.
"This step will inspire investments not only in Hartlepool but also in our upstream plate mill at Dalzell, and potentially also slab from the steel shop at Whyalla in Australia in due course, to give us a fully integrated world-class capability to supply pipeline projects."
Liberty said the acquisition would make the company one of Britain's largest industrial employers, with 5,000-strong workforce across 30 sites.
The firm has started bolstering the production workforce of the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels division following the £100 million takeover, which secured the future of 1,700 employees.
Most of the new recruits will work in the bar mill at Rotherham, which is doubling the number of shifts in order to boost output from 78,000 tonnes to 137,000 tonnes a year.
The move comes as Liberty's parent company, GFG Alliance, claimed another slice of the steel market last week by snapping up Australian steel producer Arrium Group.