Two years after multi-national steel company ArcelorMittal shut down its operation in Pt Lisas, a new company – Macarri Steel Holdings Ltd (MSH) – wants to buy those assets and revitalise TT's steel industry.
The proposal has the full support of the Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce (CPCC) and the Steel Workers Union of TT (SWUTT) – both of which met with MSH executives on Monday.
There is one prior bid under consideration, from US-based Nu-Iron, which already has a plant in Pt Lisas and which reportedly offered US$20 million for the plant.
MSH managing director Bijoy Nair Manipurath told Newsday his company has "a much superior offer" of US$350 million to restart operations and the re-hiring of the 2,000 workers who abruptly lost their jobs when the plant closed on March 11, 2016.
However as of July 30, Manipurath said he has not been able to submit a bit because the liquidator has repeatedly extended a lock-out period in the bidding process.
"Mr Kelshall says the responsibility of getting regulatory approvals lies on hands of current bidder, Nu-Iron. He says this is a legal process and he keeps extending the lock-out period for them."
SWUTT president Christopher Henry told Newsday, "MSH is making a higher offer, a better offer for the country and the workers. We understand the most recent extension ended on July 28 and the bidding process ends tomorrow (today - July 31). We are therefore calling on Mr Kelshall to give MSH the opportunity to submit an official bid."
MSH plans to make an initial injection of US$350 million to refurbish and restart operations. Then in a year to two years, invest another US$1.2 billion to $1.3 billion in the plant, creating over 5,000 direct jobs and indirect employment for the service industry.
"This is an opportunity to give the laid off workers an opportunity again to be employed, an opportunity for the country to earn foreign exchange. We hope MSH gets to meet with Kelshall to share their vision and to officially submit a bid to bring a new era of steel making in TT," Henry said.
CPCC president Ramchand Rajpal Maraj also expressed support for MSH's proposed bid, citing the economic benefits.
"We strongly urge the liquidator, Christopher Kelshall, to reopen the bidding to include Macarri’s bid," Maraj stated.