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Esmark sells technologies unit to joint venture

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 12:32 p.m.

Sewickley-based Esmark Inc. said on Monday that it sold its technologies unit to a Cleveland-based joint venture of two private investment firms.

Stahlschmidt Inc. and Bouchard Group LLC bought Esmark Technologies for an undisclosed price, Esmark CEO James Bouchard said.

The move allows Esmark to profit from opportunities related to Marcellus shale natural gas development and to focus on its core business in the steel industry.

“There's just a lot of opportunities with oil and gas, shale ... chemicals — a lot of those don't fall into the steel business,” said Bouchard, who also owns Bouchard Group. “We don't have the management resources for these new opportunities.”

Stahlschmidt, a privately held management services, investment and asset management firm, is run by Uwe T. Schmidt, an Esmark investor.

Stahlschmidt will own 60 percent of Esmark Technologies and manage its operations. Esmark Technologies' headquarters will move from Sewickley to Cleveland.

Esmark has a number of steel and other operations in Ohio, including its Independent Steel service center in Cleveland; Esmark Aviation subsidiary, which provides contract medical flights for the Cleveland Clinic; its Yorkville cold-rolled steel mill; and the Ohio Coatings Co.'s tin plate facility near Yorkville, of which Esmark owns 50 percent.

Esmark is working to reopen the Yorkville plant, which it renamed Ohio Cold Rolling Co. after purchasing that plant and the tin plate facility from bankrupt RG Steel for $6.25 million in October.

A restart date is not set, Esmark spokesman Bill Keegan said.

Esmark Technologies, formed to provide technical and management services to the steel, manufacturing and industrial sectors, will focus on project development, resource recovery, energy efficiency solutions, structured trade finance and tailored supply chain management solutions in the North America industrial metals, energy and manufacturing sectors, the company said.

One of its projects could be development of a depot for storing and transferring pipe and aggregate along the Ohio River in Yorkville, Bouchard said.

The depot, which could be built on vacant land at the Ohio Cold Rolling plant, would offer a lower-cost way to store and transport chemicals, steel, and other materials “to take advantage of the oil and gas boom,” he said.

Esmark Technologies is considering other ways to utilize the Yorkville land, he said, such as a tin-printing venture, a coal transfer and blending station, or a shale-gas cogeneration plant.

“Freight costs are going up,” Bouchard said. “A low-cost method for moving steel is down the Ohio River.”

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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