The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 14, 2007

Winner Steel completes its sale to joint venture

By Michael Roknick

SHARON — Winner Steel has completed its sale to a joint venture that includes Duferco Farrell Corp., a company representative said Thursday.

The Sharon company was sold for about $211.6 million, which includes debt and other liabilities. A tentative agreement to sell the company was reached in February and a definitive deal was crafted in May.

The company is privately owned by the Shenango Valley’s Winner family. James E. Winner Jr., chairman of Winner Steel, was not available for comment.

In a complex ownership agreement, Winner Steel was bought by Duferco U.S. Investment Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Steel Investment & Finance SA, a Luxembourg company that is a 50-50 joint venture between Duferco Group and Novolipetsk Steel, also known as NLMK.

Duferco Group, based in Lugano, Switzerland, owns Duferco Farrell Corp., which operates a steel plant in Farrell. The Sharon mill will now go under the name Winner Steel LLC.

In May NLMK said it and Duferco were talking with steel giant Esmark. That company or an affiliate could be granted a six-month option to buy up to 50 percent of Winner Steel LLC. Talks involve a deal whereby Esmark could pay NLMK and Duferco’s costs plus a negotiated interest rate.

Esmark, founded by Bouchard Group, is based in Chicago and owns a number of steel service companies. Esmark expects to complete a deal to buy Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. in June.

Employing about 250, Winner Steel is the largest industrial company owned by the Winner family. Two years ago Winner Steel completed a $40 million-plus addition of a third line.

A producer of galvanized and galvannealed steel coils, the company has an annual capacity of about 1.2 million tons, making it one of the largest independent galvanized steel producers in the U.S.