Under the deal, Alfasid, which operates the El-Hajar steel plant, will be renamed Ispat Annaba. El-Ouenza and Bukhadra, formerly owned by Ferphos, will henceforth be called Ispat Tebessa.

A spokeswoman for Ispat International declined to reveal the value of the deal, and would not comment on Ispat’s investment in its newly acquired ventures. However, the official APS news agency said the Indian firm is to invest $400 million, of which $175 million will be spent in the first decade.

The Ispat spokeswoman said that growth was one of the main objectives behind the acquisitions. The steel plant in Annaba has a production capacity of 1.8 million tonnes a year (t/y) for flat and long products, but has recently produced just 750,000-800,000 t/y.

For several years the government has been seeking to sell a stake in Alfasid in an attempt to inject financial resources into the beleaguered company. Last May, a protest by Alfasid workers over the company’s failure to meet its payroll obligations ended in violence as police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators.