Investment Case Studies
Greybull rescued Ascoval, a French based electric arc steel producer, in early 2019. Ascoval had suffered from years of steep losses as its historical market went into structural decline and its former shareholders were no longer able to support the company. Greybull provided and arranged a EUR 100 million refinancing of the business with support from its banks and the French government. Greybull led a full scale turnaround of Ascoval’s operations, investing heavily to develop the capacity of the steel mill to produce square semi-finished steel billets and blooms, both of which have a much larger addressable market than the existing production of circular billets. The first square billets and blooms were rolled at the plant in August 2020.
This investment has enabled Ascoval to secure major new contracts, such as a EUR 500 million supply contract with SNCF, the French national rail company. The electric arc produced blooms will form part of a new green steel supply chain where old rail tracks will be ‘recycled’ by Ascoval and melted into new blooms, which in turn will be rolled into new rails using low emission nuclear power. This strategic pivot, as well as a general turnaround of the business led by the Greybull backed management team, attracted interest from major industrial steel groups including ArcelorMittal, Jindal Steel, Jingye Steel and Liberty House. Greybull exited its investment successfully in September 2020 when Ascoval was acquired by Liberty House.
Arc Specialist Engineering
Greybull bought Metalrax in a public to private transaction and relaunched the firm as Arc Specialist Engineering in March 2013. The acquisition helped secure not only a future for the business but also the jobs of over 400 employees.
During Greybull’s ownership, Arc became a profitable cash generative business and made several strategic acquisitions to grow the Group. Following the successful turnaround and many years of profitable trading, Arc was acquired in 2017 by a private equity fund.
In 2015 Tata Steel announced the intended closure of its Long Products division in Europe. Instead, Greybull rescued the business, saving more than 4,400 jobs in the UK and 400 in France. The business was renamed British Steel and Greybull set about implementing a large, complex and ambitious turnaround. Greybull provided and arranged a financing package of over £400 million. Working in close partnership with the management team, the employees and the trade unions, British Steel was transformed from a loss-making division to a profitable standalone company in 2017. Greybull invested heavily, both in add-on acquisitions such as FN Steel in the Netherlands and in capital investment to improve and expand the existing facilities.
In 2019, Brexit complications severely impacted the company, including a marked decrease in orders from European clients and the loss of access to certain financial markets. With the support of Her Majesty’s Government, British Steel was able to trade through these difficulties and was sold to the Chinese steel manufacturer, Jingye in March 2020 who will continue the journey we started to re-establish British Steel as a vital industrial player in the United Kingdom.
The Monarch Group
Greybull rescued the Monarch Group in October 2014. The Group comprised Monarch Airlines, Monarch Aircraft Engineering and Cosmos, a tour operator. Greybull provided and arranged over £250 million of capital to support the turnaround of the business which employed 2,500 people.
Under Greybull’s ownership, the airline was swiftly returned to profitability and growth. In 2017, the airline experienced significant turbulence created by terrorism and other macroeconomic events which led to its closure, along with that of several other European airlines. As a result of Greybull’s support, Monarch kept flying for several years longer than it would have without intervention. The engineering activities were rescued and sold to trade buyers.
In 2012 Greybull backed a management team buyout of Plessey Semiconductors, an embedded technologies developer based in Plymouth. Plessey had a proud heritage and had been at the forefront of the UK’s industrial landscape for many decades but had lost direction and focus. Greybull invested tens of millions of pounds to support the turnaround and repositioning of the business from a contract manufacturer of semiconductors into a world leading producer of Gan-on-Silicon LEDs. Greybull provided and arranged over €130 million of capital to support Plessey’s developments.
More recently Plessey has taken its LED technology into the new and exciting field of micro-LED technology for augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) display applications and in March 2020 announced a commercial agreement with Facebook. The partnership will mean Plessey LED manufacturing operations will be dedicated to supporting Facebook develop and prototype new artificial reality technologies.