Aerial view of huge AK Steel operations in Middletown

Cleveland company completes acquisition of AK Steel

The $3 billion move on Friday means integrating North America’s largest producer of iron ore pellets downstream into the production of steel and parts for the automotive industry.

The combined company will be led by Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO.

“This is a new era for Cleveland-Cliffs as a producer of differentiated, high quality iron ore, metallics and steel in North America,” Goncalves said. “The new Cliffs will begin from a unique position of strength in our industry, with a dynamic combination of assets including two efficient integrated blast furnace steel mills, two electric arc furnace plants, a new state-of-the-art HBI plant and several other highly technologically developed facilities.”

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Goncalves said the company will be catering to a desirable customer base and primarily doing business in the United States, which he called “the most resilient manufacturing economy in the world.”

“I am honored to be leading a company that is built on such a rich history, and now combines mining, pelletizing, direct-reduction, EAF steelmaking, BF/BOF steelmaking, highly technologically developed finishing mills and automated manufacturing of auto-parts,” he said. 

Cliffs plans to maintain a “significant presence” at AK Steel’s current headquarters office in West Chester Twp., as well as its Research and Innovation Center in Middletown.

Goncalves said he is “very pleased” to welcome the AK Steel employees and the unions representing the workforce throughout the country to the Cleveland-Cliffs family. “From now on, we are a single, united and very strong team,” he said.

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Per the agreement, AK Steel CEO Roger Newport will retire from the company. Newport also will receive a “golden parachute” payment of $29.9 million.

AK Steel employs 2,400 people across the region. It posted sales of $6.8 billion last year, up from $6.1 billion the previous year. It also reported a profit of $186 million, compared to $104 million in 2017.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 12,000 people across mining and steel manufacturing operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Founded in 1847, the company is among the largest vertically integrated producers of differentiated iron ore and steel in North America. With an emphasis on non-commoditized products, Cliffs said it is “uniquely positioned to supply both customized iron ore pellets and sophisticate d steel solutions to a quality-focused customer base, with an industry-leading market share in the automotive industry.”

In 2020, Cliffs also expects to be the sole producer of hot briquetted iron (HBI) in the Great Lakes region.

MORE: AK Steel reports $54M loss in 4th quarter as acquisition nears

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