Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sparrows Point Purchased For $72 million By Liquidator

Sparrows Point
Hilco Trading LLC, based in Illinois, a liquidation firm, won the bidding for Sparrows Point, offering $72 million for the Baltimore County steel mill — less than a tenth of what the complex sold for just four years earlier.  — and realizing the worst fears of its roughly 2,000 employees.

The local United Steelworkers union and its 2,000 members at the plant had hoped for a steelmaker would buy and restart the mill, idled after owner RG Steel filed for bankruptcy in May. But no steelmaking companies showed up to bid at the Tuesday afternoon auction in New York.  Bethlehem Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001. Sparrows Point has had four owners since then.

Hilco Trading LLC, based in Illinois, dismantles closed industrial sites, sells off retail inventory and recently auctioned off equipment from bankrupt solar panel firm Solyndra.

Sparrows Point was one of Baltimore County's largest employers before the mass layoff, but it was far leaner in recent years than it was at its height under Bethlehem Steel. Together, the company's mill and shipbuilding complex in Sparrows Point employed about 30,000 people during World War II, producing hundreds of ships.

Sparrows Point
RG Steel owes the county nearly $4.6 million in property taxes and sewage charges — the mill was about to go to tax sale when the company filed for bankruptcy protection. The county's attorneys said in court documents Wednesday that the local government would object to any sale that didn't result in prompt repayment of those back taxes.

The mill sits on more than 2,400 acres at a prime location, south of Interstate 695 on a peninsula that juts into the Patapsco River. But the area is far from pristine. More than a century of steel making and finishing operations have resulted in perhaps the most complex environmental cleanup site in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing last week on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency that the federal government would object to any buyer without the wherewithal to continue mandated efforts to find and remediate problems. (Baltimore Sun, 8/8/2012)

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