Alcoa’s dilemma: the Supreme Court pushes to sell its aluminum factory in Lugo or to continue with production

The judicial decision to suspend the ERE for the closure of the Alcoa plant in San Cibrao moves a situation paralyzed for a year.

Alcoa Aluminum Factory

Almost a year after the American multinational Alcoa announced the closure of the aluminum factory in San Cibrao, in Cervo (Lugo), little did he suspect that it was going to be so difficult. And, even more so, now, when the Tribunal Supreme has confirmed the sentence of the Superior Court of Justice of Galicia (TSXG) that annulled the employment regulation file (ERE) that he intended to execute and, with it, dismiss more than 500 workers.

From this judicial decision, what will be the next step of this ‘soap opera’? “The only option left is to sell,” explain sources close to the company to EL ESPAÑOL-Invertia. “What is not clear is who and how.”

Precisely, the key to stranding this process is that Alcoa has always wanted SEPI (State Society of Industrial Participations) was the intermediary between the company and the buyers. “What they want is to remove future responsibilities and for the Spanish state to assume them,” union sources explain to this newspaper.

Even so, the multinational has declared, once the sentence is known, that “Despite the difficult situation, it has never proposed to close the plant and has offered numerous reasonable alternatives, such as an ERTE and keeping the electrolysis tanks in restart conditions ”. However, it adds the option of “a sale to SEPI for a later transfer to a third party, or the possibility of a direct sale to a third party if the plant previously obtains access to a competitive energy framework”.

Reach out

For its part, the central government is clear about its position. In September, the Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto, said in congress that “there will be a solution if Alcoa wants there to be a solution” but that SEPI will not intervene because rejected public intervention a year ago. Still, he assures that “We continue with our hand out to the company to collaborate in the search for potential investors ”.

“We have ensured the maintenance of the productive capacities of the plant. Now it’s time to move Alcoa, “he said. The minister, who in an attempt to solve the conflict, traveled to the United States, to the heart of the company, last July to advance a solution that guarantees the maintenance of industrial capacities and jobs in the A Mariña region.

The same has not happened with Xunta de Galicia, which has remained in profile so that the focus fell on the Government of Spain. He wants to stir the already churning waters and the economic vice president of the Xunta, Francisco Conde, requests Government and company that “sit down” to carry out the operation, “if necessary” with the intervention of SEPI, which is precisely what Alcoa wants.

Alcoa’s boyfriends

Throughout this year, numerous grooms have appeared on the scene showing their intention to get hold of the plant. Despite these candidates, Alcoa has not wanted to give its arm to twist, but, have they lost interest or are they still leafing off the daisy while waiting for the final decision?

“The bride and groom continue, they continue Liberty House o Sidenor interested, among others, but since Alcoa wants the SEPI to enter yes or yes, now with the Supreme Court’s decision it only has two options: either sell or continue producing in San Cibrao and wait for a new reason to present another ERE, because they are already losing money with so many blockades ”, continue the union sources.

“And it is a very difficult decision to adopt, because its objective has always been that there are no competitors in European territory who can make the same product that it intends to import from its factory in Saudi Arabia,” explain union sources.

“It is true that the current context of energy crisis is not the best time for a transaction, but the escalation in raw material prices has benefited Alcoa, and in fact, in the last quarter, it has achieved a record quarterly profit 290 million ”.

Future of San Cibrao

A new horizon opens up for the Lugo aluminum plant with the Supreme Court’s decision. The possibility of sale or continuity is positive for a region that depends on this industry. “San Cibrao is a profitable factory, you just have to make some investments”, conclude the union sources.

“Europe cannot be left without the production of primary aluminum that is part of the value chain of the energy transition and continue to depend on third countries. And Galicia cannot allow another industry to close down a territory that is already suffering a worrying path of deindustrialization, with the repercussions that this has on employment, economic activity and the wealth of its regions ”.