Anti-trust regulators in the European Union said yesterday that they had opened an investigation into the proposed US$2.6 billion purchase of Atlanta’s rolled-aluminium firm Aleris by rolled and recycled aluminium firm Novelis Inc.
In comments made by Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, the regulators’ intent was to ensure competitiveness in the value-added aluminium market.
“Our in-depth investigation aims to ensure that the acquisition of Aleris by Novelis does not have a negative impact on effective competition in aluminum markets and does not lead to less choice and higher prices for European industrial customers.”
The merger, which was announced last summer, will create a firm with pro-forma revenues of around US$15 billion and is expected to be concluded in 9 to 15 months. The purchase will have Novelis take ownership of Aleris’ 13 manufacturing plants, which are spread across three continents. Novelis sees the deal as an opportunity to expand its presence in the aerospace industry, which has become increasingly lucrative over the past several years.
Upon completion, Novelis will be the surviving marque, with the resulting company’s headquarters to be housed in Atlanta. Up to then, the two firms will continue to exist and operate separately while integrating under the Novelis banner.
The buyout came 8 months after a failed attempt by Zhongwang USA to purchase Aleris for US$2.33 billion. That deal was met with resistance from several corners and was ultimately recommended against by the CFIUS, spelling the deal’s end. Rumors that Aditya Birla Group, who owns Novelis, were preparing a bid began to emerge soon after the Zhongwang USA deal began to show cracks.
Novelis is a subsidiary of Mumbai’s Hindalco Industries Ltd. Based in Atlanta, the firm accounts for almost half of Hindalco’s consolidated revenue. The world’s largest recycler of aluminium, Novelis conducts operations in ten different countries, employs around eleven thousand people, and reported US$10 billion in revenue for the most recent fiscal year.