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HarbisonWalker International announces acquisition by Platinum Equity for its next era of sustainable refractory industry growth


Dec. 14, 2022 - The Board of Directors of HarbisonWalker International (HWI) today announced that it has signed an agreement to be acquired by Platinum Equity, a global investment firm operating companies in a broad range of business markets. The acquisition plan ensures HWI’s continued growth and leadership in refractory products and services.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

“This is excellent news for our employees, customers, and communities. Platinum Equity supports our intent to continue driving HWI forward into an unprecedented new era of growth. Over the past several years in North America and throughout our global operations, we’ve built operational excellence, differentiated ourselves through our supply reliability, and delivered the deepest and widest offerings of refractory products and expertise. Our new owner is wholly aligned with our leadership team’s vision to aggressively accelerate investments in our business. We are poised to capitalize on the momentum that our team of employees has built together,” said Carol Jackson, chairman and CEO, HarbisonWalker International.

“HarbisonWalker has built an impressive organization, and we have deep respect for the company’s legacy, culture, and commitment to serving its customers. We are excited to continue investing in its growth,” said Platinum Equity partner Louis Samson.

In July, Platinum Equity announced plans to acquire Imerys SA’s High Temperature Solutions business (HTS), a provider of refractory solutions serving more than 6,000 customers primarily in Europe and Asia, in a transaction that is expected to close by the end of the year. Once both acquisitions have been completed, HWI and HTS will combine into a global business with increased reach and scale.

“HWI’s presence in North America complements HTS’s business in Europe and Asia,” added Mr. Samson. “Their product portfolios are also highly complementary and will create a comprehensive, well-rounded offering of brick and powder-based refractories for a global customer base. We expect the combination to immediately open up new avenues for growth on both sides.”

Platinum Equity said it will seek additional opportunities to help the combined company grow both organically and through additional acquisitions in key product areas and geographies.

“The refractories industry is highly fragmented, and this combination will create a global platform with meaningful opportunities to further expand,” said Platinum Equity Managing Director Malik Vorderwuelbecke. “We are excited about the prospects in this space and look forward to putting our M&A and operational resources to work.”

Talks began earlier in 2022, with several potential buyers recognizing HWI as a best-in-class North American refractory solutions provider serving hundreds of blue-chip customers across steel and industrial end markets. The complete value proposition includes technology-rich products, robust service capabilities, and a track record of innovation and operational excellence. Further, HWI demonstrates a clear sustainability commitment and is driving standards in the industry for customers and its operations.

Since rebranding as HWI in 2015, the leadership team has embarked on numerous initiatives to strengthen its value proposition, reaffirm its commitment to customers, and shape its company culture. Projects have included the institutionalization of the HarbisonWalker Business System (HBS) and a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, the building of a state-of-the-art monolithics plant in South Point, Ohio, numerous upgrades to its manufacturing facilities, and the creation of Alabama1, a new manufacturing plant and hub facility to serve steel customers in the southern U.S. The company has also restructured its Commercial and Supply Chain organizations, People and Organizational Effectiveness team, and launched a Project Management Office. In 2021, HWI formed its employee-led ESG Sustainability initiative. Its Advanced Technology Research Center (ATRC), the largest refractory research and development lab in North America, continues to deliver new industry innovations for customers and is advancing a major recycling initiative.

As employees have focused on investments and improvements as one HWI, a unified culture has emerged that fosters high performance, loyalty, and engagement, as evidenced by its top-quartile employee engagement scores.

In addition, HWI, under its new ownership, is well-positioned to further capitalize on its progress related to several global megatrends driving refractories growth. These trends include reshoring – based on a need for a reliable US-based supply chain, evolving industrial use cases, and instituting ESG, Sustainability, and recycling programs.

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