February 6, 2019 / 12:25 PM / 9 months ago

Aurubis to seek new buyer for rolled products unit or other options

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Aurubis AG, Europe’s biggest copper smelter, said on Thursday it aimed to find a new buyer for its flat rolled products business or pursue other options for the unit, after the EU Commission blocked its sale to a German producer.

The European Commission on Thursday blocked Aurubis’ plan to sell the business to Germany’s Wieland-Werke AG, saying the move could have pushed up consumer prices.

“Aurubis is reviewing strategic alternatives for the business division,” the company said.

When asked for further details about the plan, a spokeswoman said: “We retain our intention to seek a buyer for the flat rolled products business.”

“We are seeking a strategic option in which the sector can thrive in the long term,” she added.

Aurubis had said on Oct. 10 the plan to sell the flat rolled business to unlisted Wieland could fail as European competition authorities were likely to request new conditions.

When it announced it was in talks on the sale to Wieland last year, Aurubis had said the move was part of the firm’s strategy to expand into other metals.

The flat rolled products business produces about 235,000 tonnes of copper products a year. It has production sites in Germany, the United States, Netherlands and Finland and copper processing centers in Italy, Britain and Slovakia.

The unit, which has about 1,700 employees, generated revenues of about 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the 2017/18 financial year. Its customers include the construction industry and the automotive, electronics and telecommunications sectors.

Aurubis CEO Juergen Schachler said in a statement the company believed the sale to Wieland would have “offered a strong future prospect” for the flat rolled products business, but added the commission’s decision was not a surprise.

($1 = 0.8782 euros)

Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Edmund Blair

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