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YOUNGSTOWN Copperweld weighs independent status



Published: Wed, May 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A sale or new plan of operation for LTV Copperweld is expected in the next four months.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- LTV Copperweld is studying whether to emerge from bankruptcy court as an independent company.

Murphy Bennett, a Copperweld lawyer, said Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that the division has financial experts examining whether that option would be better than selling the division.

The division has been on the market for months as its parent company, Cleveland-based LTV Corp., liquidates its operations.

It already sold its LTV Steel division after stopping production and mothballing the plants. Copperweld plants are still operating because they are profitable.

Copperweld, a metal fabricating business, is the only part of LTV still operating. It employs about 3,700 nationwide, including about 120 in Youngstown. The division has a tubular pipe plant on Poland Avenue and the headquarters of its pipe and conduit division on Albert Street.

After the hearing, LTV officials declined to discuss the review of Copperweld.

Lisa Beckerman, attorney for the note holders committee in the case, said during the hearing that a sale or reorganization of the business could happen by September or sooner.

Objected to plan

She objected to the financing plan for Copperweld that was approved by Judge William Bodoh.

The deal combines a loan agreement for $194 million with a new credit agreement that provides $106 million in additional credit. A group of lenders led by GE Capital is providing both sources of credit.

Beckerman said the terms of the deal would make it more difficult to reorganize the business as an independent company. The problem is that the deal would allow the lenders to demand full payment for both loan agreements if a reorganization plan is approved, she said.

Judge Bodoh said he approved the deal because it was the only one available and Copperweld needs the money to continue operating. The plants must be kept running in order to maintain the division's value, he said.

Former LTV Steel plants are in the process of being restarted by International Steel Group, a new company created to buy most of LTV Steel assets. Included is a coke plant in Warren, where some workers have been called back to prepare the plant for production.

shilling@vindy.com




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