Seadrift Coke plant announces nearly 2 dozen layoffs

Rye Druzin By Rye Druzin

Nov. 13, 2015 at 10:42 p.m.
Updated Nov. 14, 2015 at 6 a.m.

UPDATE, 2:13 P.M. SATURDAY, NOV. 14, 2015:

The layoffs at the Seadrift Coke plant will not affect production. According to spokesperson Kelly Taylor, the layoffs went into effect on Wednesday, and the plant has 130 employees remaining. She added that "our cost reductions are intended to keep our plant operating at reasonable rates so that we are prepared for the expected upturn in the steel market."

Taylor would not comment on how much cost savings that company achieved through the layoffs.

ORIGINAL STORY, PUBLISHED 10:42 P.M. FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 2015:

Almost two dozen workers at the Seadrift Coke plant in Port Lavaca will be laid off because of a weak global steel markets, a company spokesperson said Friday.

Twenty plant employees and an unspecified number of contractors will be laid off from the Seadrift Coke facility, Kelly Taylor, director of investor and media relations, wrote in an emailed statement.

"We have given careful thought to the impact the announcements have on Seadrift's team members and their families," Taylor said. "Our focus is on helping these team members through this transition with outplacement, benefits continuation and severance."

An email to Taylor asking for specifics regarding when the layoffs would take place and what savings would be achieved was not returned Friday night.

The Seadrift Coke facility has changed hands multiple times during the past 15 years. The plant was bought in July 2003 by the Union Oil Co. of California and was bought again, this time by a private investor, in 2005, according to the plant's website. In Nov. 2010 Seadrift Coke was acquired by Independence, Ohio-based GrafTech International Holdings, which owns Seadrift Coke today, in a deal involving C/G Electrodes worth more than $450 million in cash and credit.

GrafTech was bought in August by Brookfield Asset Management in a deal involving $150 million in shares, according to an article on thestreet.com.

The World Steel Association's Short Range Outlook released in October estimated global steel demand will decrease by 1.7 percent for 2015, down from a growth of 0.7 percent in 2014. This report was cited by GrafTech in the company's third quarter 2015 results, in which CEO Joel Hawthorne said GrafTech was working "through a very challenging operating environment in our end markets and will continue to aggressively reduce costs to improve our competitive position."

The company ended the third quarter with $9.5 million in short-term debt and almost $370 million in long-term debt, according to GrafTech's third quarter release.


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