The planned acquisition of aluminum maker Aleris Corp. by Chinese investment firm Zhongwang USA has been terminated, the two companies announced Monday.
Aleris, with manufacturing operations in west Davenport, said the merger agreement terminated as of Sunday upon mutual agreement. The companies first announced the merger in August 2016.
In separate news releases Monday, the companies expressed disappointment that the deal will not proceed.
The companies had tried unsuccessfully to win approval for the $2.33 billion deal from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, or CFIUS, which assesses mergers to ensure they do not endanger national security. Zhongwang USA said the decision was driven by uncertainty related to the receipt of CFIUS approval.
In November 2016, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and 12 other senators urged CFIUS to reject the merger, citing national security concerns.
“Zhongwang’s purchase of Aleris would directly undermine our national security, including by jeopardizing the U.S. manufacturing base for sensitive technologies in an industry already devastated by the effects of China’s market distorting policies, and creating serious risk that sensitive technologies and knowhow will be transferred to China, further imperiling U.S. defense interests,” the senators wrote.
United Steelworkers International also expressed concern about the deal.
"While this is not the outcome we intended, we remain committed to our growth strategy and have made great strides over the past year in expanding our capacity and developing the capabilities required to meet the future demands of our industry," Aleris Chairman and CEO Sean Stack said in the release. "This includes our automotive expansion project in Lewisport, Kentucky, which is beginning to serve customers."
Since 2010, Aleris has been owned and controlled by a group led by certain investment funds of Oaktree Capital Management as well as certain funds managed by Apollo Management.
Aleris became the parent company of the Davenport plant in 2014 as part of Aleris' $110 million acquisition of the former Nichols Aluminum from Quanex Building Products Corp. Aleris, a leader in aluminum rolled products, is headquartered in Cleveland. It operates production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.
"Our ownership group remains committed to Aleris and highly supportive of the company's strategy," Stack added.
Zhongwang is majority-owned by Liu Zhongtian, founder of China Zhongwang Holdings Limited, the world's second largest industrial aluminum extrusion developer and manufacturer.
The company said that through the proposed deal it "was committed to preserving American jobs and investing substantial funds into Aleris, beyond the purchase price" particularly in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Iowa. Its capital investments would have increased "productivity and American competitiveness while supporting in excess of 1,000 new jobs across four states," the release said.
Zhongwang also plans to continue pursuing expansion opportunities in the United States and other parts of the world.