Aterian Exits Johnstown Wire Technologies

Aterian Investment Partners has sold Johnstown Wire Technologies (JWT) to Liberty Steel, an affiliate of GFG Alliance.

JWT is one of the largest producers of value-added carbon and alloy wire in North America. The company’s manufacturing processes include hydrochloric acid cleaning and coating, wire drawing, electro-galvanizing, aluminizing, and continuous coil annealing. JWT’s wire products are used by its worldwide customers primarily in the transportation and construction industries, but the company also supplies products used in the machinery, energy and electric power, and consumer products industries.

JWT, led by CEO Jack Miller, operates from a 638,000 sq. ft. facility in Johnstown, PA and employs 250 people, of which just over 200 are represented by the United Steelworkers (www.johnstownwire.com).

JWT was founded in 1911 and was acquired in 1923 by Bethlehem Steel. In 1992 the company was acquired by private equity firm TMB Industries and acquired in 1995 by Ridgemont Equity Partners, Dubin Clark & Company, and Guard Hill Holdings. Aterian acquired JWT in May 2014.

During its hold period, Aterian worked with JWT to invest in a range of commercial initiatives, new production equipment and IT platform, and operations processes to further grow the business. “We are proud of our significant investments into the Johnstown facility and providing the company with the capital needed to execute on its strategic plan,” said Christopher Thomas, co-founder and partner at Aterian.

“The capital investments into Johnstown exemplify Aterian’s approach of partnering with industry leaders and providing the capital needed to execute on a company’s long-term strategic plan,” said Daniel Phan, a principal at Aterian. “We are proud to have continued to advance Johnstown’s nearly 110-year-old leading franchise.”

Liberty Steel sees growth at JWT coming from updates to the US infrastructure and electricity networks which will increase demand for steel products such as support cables and guard rails for bridges and for electrical power lines.  JWT is a top-3 US producer of the types of steel used in infrastructure applications including CHQ (cold heading quality), electro-galvanized, aluminized and spring wire. The acquisition of JWT will also adds to Liberty’s capability to meet “Made in America” specifications required for public infrastructure and utility contracts. Liberty already operates melting and rolling operations in Georgetown, SC, and Peoria, IL.

Liberty Steel, an integrated industrial and metals business, entered the US market in 2017 by acquiring ArcelorMittal’s Georgetown mill and followed up with the purchase of Keystone Consolidated Industries, including its flagship Peoria mill, in 2018. The company is part of the GFG Alliance which is active in steel and aluminum production, mining, engineering, power generation, infrastructure, banking, property and commodities trading. London-headquartered GFG, founded and owned by the Gupta family, is led by CEO Sanjeev Gupta.

Aterian invests up to $65 million in small-to-middle market businesses with $25 million to $500 million in revenues. The firm’s sectors of interest are wide and include manufacturing, distribution, chemicals, metals and mining, industrials, retail, consumer products, restaurants, food and beverage, and health care services. Aterian held a first and final closing of Aterian Investment Partners III LP with $350 million of committed capital in July 2018. Aterian’s earlier fund closed in December 2013 with $257 million of capital commitments. The firm was founded in 2009 by Brandon BetheaMichael Fieldstone and Christopher Thomas and is based in New York (www.aterianpartners.com).

KeyBanc Capital Markets was the financial advisor to Aterian.

© 2019 Private Equity Professional | June 12, 2019

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