PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Russian steel producer EVRAZ PLC announced Wednesday its intention to sell the company's American assets, which include the Rocky Mountain Steel Mill in Pueblo.
"EVRAZ PLC announces that it is launching the process of soliciting proposals for the acquisition of its North American subsidiaries (EVRAZ North America, “ENA” or the “Company”)," EVRAZ said in a press release. "The sale will allow to unlock the stand-alone value of the North America business."
EVRAZ PLC, headquartered in London, purchased the steel mills in Pueblo, or EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, back in 2007.
Today, Rocky Mountain Steel employs more than 1,300 people, according to EVRAZ NA. EVRAZ NA oversees the operations at the Pueblo steel plant.
Back in May, the United Kingdom government froze assets for several individuals suspected of financially aiding Russian President Vladimir Putin. That included Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and the owner of more than 28% of EVRAZ PLC's total shares.
According to the UK government, Abramovich was accused of using resources within Evraz PLC to aid in Putin's invasion of Ukraine. That aid includes "potentially supplying steel to the Russian military which may have been used in the production of tanks."
In their press release, EVRAZ PLC said "the solicitation process is currently being conducted under the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI)" in the United Kingdom. Any transaction would be monitored by the OFSI to make sure it applies to any and all sanctions laws. The potential sale would require approval from "relevant sanctions authorities" including the OFSI.
13 Investigates has reached out to EVRAZ NA to comment publicly, however, they declined to comment.
In a message to EVRAZ NA employees obtained by 13 Investigates, company leaders said the decision to sell was made with employees' jobs and communities in mind.
"As you may know, the current geopolitical landscape has created a heightened level of uncertainty for EVRAZ North America (ENA) over the last five months, leading to unique challenges for us in the day-to-day operations of our business. However, we are in a position to change course. In response to today’s reality, and to best position our organization for long-term success, EVRAZ plc, the parent of ENA, has made the difficult decision to begin a sales process of the North American business."EVRAZ North America
EVRAZ North America goes on to say they are working closely with high-ranking government officials in the United States and Canada to make sure this process runs smoothly.
In a statement to 13 Investigates, Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar said the sale comes as a "bit of a surprise."
“The news of Evraz North America selling its North American operations to include Pueblo comes as a bit of a surprise, but with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the potential ties to Russia it is understandable. The steel mill here in Pueblo has been owned by several owners throughout its existence, but whoever owns it in the future will have a huge asset as a premiere steel mill in North America. We know the investments with the long rail plans for the future and the best steel workers in North America here in Pueblo, make this an attractive investment for a company looking to make this acquisition.”Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar
Two United Steelworkers Unions in Pueblo (USW Local 2102 and 3267) are currently in negotiations with EVRAZ NA for a new collective bargaining agreement, according to Union leadership. The current five-year agreement expires in September, and they’ve been in the process of negotiating a new one throughout the summer. Charles Perko, one of the Union Presidents, does not believe at this point in time the sale will significantly impact ongoing bargaining.