Trading House Concord Buys Alumina Plant in Bet on U.S. Revival

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Concord Resources Ltd., a trading house set up six years ago to challenge the dominance of Glencore Plc and Trafigura Group in metals markets, acquired its first major asset with a deal to take control of a U.S. alumina plant.

The London-based merchant is buying a controlling stake in the Noranda Alumina refinery at Gramercy, Louisiana, as well as an associated bauxite mine in Jamaica, from from DADA Holdings LLC, Chief Executive Officer Mark Hansen said. Concord previously bought a 12% stake in the business in 2018.

The deal will give Concord access to an additional 600,000 tons of alumina per year on top of the 1.4 million tons it already handles, Hansen said. That would make it one of the world’s leading traders of alumina, the key raw material for making aluminum, alongside the likes of Glencore and Trafigura.

Aluminum prices have surged along with other metals amid booming demand from the construction and manufacturing sectors as the global economy rebounds. Hansen said the deal reflects his conviction that a growing focus on environmental standards would lead to a revival of the aluminum industry in North America and Europe, after many years in which growing Chinese production undercut western producers.

“We’ve always believed pretty strongly in the rebound of Western Hemisphere smelting and production, particularly in the aluminum chain. We continue to believe in that,” he said. “We think there is going to be an increasing demand for products that support aluminum smelting in North America.”

Concord was founded in 2015 by a group of former Noble Group Ltd. traders, with backing from private equity investors including Pinnacle Asset Management LP, Pala Investments AG, MKS PAMP Group and the partners of Ospraie Management LLC.

In its move to invest in production assets, Concord is following the path of larger, older competitors such as Glencore, which started out as a pure trader but has transformed itself into one of the world’s largest mining companies.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. But Concord’s most recent annual report values its 12% stake at $18.4 million, implying a valuation for the whole business of about $150 million.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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