The judge authorizes the investment funds to take control of Celsa

"The market is and must be the sole arbiter of economic survival".

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
04 September 2023 Monday 11:10
27 Reads
The judge authorizes the investment funds to take control of Celsa

"The market is and must be the sole arbiter of economic survival". Under this premise, the Spanish judiciary yesterday authorized several foreign funds to take control of Celsa, the most important steel group in Catalonia, founded in 1967 by Francisco and José María Rubiralta.

With an annual turnover of 6,000 million euros and a debt of more than 3,000 million, the group was immersed in the last year in a complex process of restructuring the liabilities which yesterday the justice put an end to. In application of the new bankruptcy law, commercial judge number 2 of Barcelona approved the restructuring plan that the funds designed with the aim of converting the debt into shares after seeing that the company was unable to satisfy it.

According to the ruling, there is no appeal against the decision. Sources from the company assured this newspaper yesterday that they are studying its effects after seeing how the judge has declared the issues of prejudiciality and unconstitutionality that were proposed before the TJUE and the TC to be inadmissible.

According to the more than 150-page ruling, SVP Global, Deutsche Bank, Sculptor and Anchorage are some of the most prominent funds that will have control of the business. This group of creditors will take 100% of the property, which until now was divided between four Rubiralta brothers. The change of ownership will be carried out through the capitalization of 1,352 million euros of convertible debt and part of the jumbo debt, while the remaining debt will mature in a term extendable to five years. In addition, the agreement dispenses with the public aid of 550 million euros approved by SEPI with the aim of refloating Celsa. Lexaudit, the company that was appointed as an independent expert in the restructuring process, will be in charge of overseeing the execution of the plan.

In a joint statement, the investment funds announced yesterday that they will soon appoint an independent board of directors, made up of "highly respected and world-class" profiles. They will have the purpose of making the group solvent and of turning Celsa into a European leader in the sector. In the statement, the foreign funds also assure that they will keep the 10,000 direct jobs.

Yesterday, union representatives met with representatives of the company and they were confident: "Despite the uncertainty, no one believes that we will have problems in the short term", commented José García, from the UGT, to this newspaper. The general secretary of this union, Pepe Álvarez, also spoke out on the issue: "The most transcendent thing, beyond ownership, is the consolidation of jobs and the maintenance of the group without segregation". In fact, at the trial held in July, it became clear that one of the biggest fears of the workers and property representatives was that the funds would manage the business with the idea of ​​selling it in parts. According to yesterday's announcement, the funds have a long-term investment horizon. And, in fact, the judgment of the judge Álvaro Lobato trusts that it will be like this: "The fund restructuring plan is the only guarantee that ensures the viability of Celsa". In the sentence, the magistrate considers that the business plan approved by Celsa at the beginning of 2023 had "poor" consistency, since "a few months before, the management team had drawn up substantially different projections". In addition, the judge considers the Rubiralta family's attempt to retain the property by commissioning a report from the firms BDO and Lazard, which valued the company at 6,000 million euros, and not 2,400 million, as the expert claimed, to have failed. independent Lexaudit.

Throughout yesterday's day, the Generalitat - which months ago took a position in favor of the continuity of Rubiralta (as well as the employer Foment del Treball) - confirmed its involvement with the future of the Catalan industrial group. "We plan to meet with the new ownership of the company, just as we met previously. The Government shows its commitment to continue to monitor and protect the integrity of the value chain and the industrial model", sources from the Ministry of Business assured this newspaper.