For some time, I’ve been collecting information related to the Braidy Industries deal. Topics of research have included the deal itself, Craig Bouchard, Matt Bevin, Oleg Deripaska, Rusal, Mitch McConnell, and so on. The recent stories by Time and the Washington Post covered much of the ground, and provided fresh details; nevertheless, I have continued to dig around the story in my “spare time” (hah!), looking for other threads.
I’ve also looked for other persons digging into Russian connections in general, to see if they have come across anything specific to our Kentucky focus. One such person is Wendy Siegelman, an independent investigative reporter who has been writing about Trump-Russia for years. (She also makes these amazing infographics and charts tying facts together, which I find exceptionally impressive.) If you are on Twitter, you should follow her at @WendySiegelman.
I contacted her about the work I was doing, and we began a conversation. I told her I was working on a timeline of events, and she shared one interesting side note, which I want to share with you.
The Severstal deal
Unless you’ve been following this story closely, you may not know that Braidy-Rusal is not the first deal Craig Bouchard has done with a Russian company. Before there was Rusal, there was Severstal.
Craig Bouchard and his brother James founded a steel company called Esmark. They built the company largely through acquisitions (which is a long and detailed story in its own right). One of the acquisitions they tried was purchasing a plant called Sparrow Point owned by ArcelorMittal. The deal collapsed, with many accusations on both sides as to why. (Side note on this: Wilbur Ross, who is now Commerce Secretary, sold his steel company to Mittal in 2004 and joined their board, so he was on the board during these negotiations.)
A Russian company called Severstal came in and bought the Sparrow Point plant from ArcelorMittal. Severstal was owned by Alexei Mordashov, a Russian billionaire/oligarch who some say is a competitor to Oleg Deripaska.
Meanwhile, Esmark was in financial trouble of its own. (Another long story.) Eventually, the Bouchards decided they needed to sell Esmark … and to whom did they sell? Yep, they sold Esmark to Severstal in August 2008 for $775 million plus around $400 million in assumed debt.
The tie-in to Braidy Industries
Here’s the interesting side note that Ms. Siegelman pointed out: In 2010, Esmark (back from the dead – another long story) bought back three units from Severstal, returning those plants to American ownership. The CEO of Esmark at that time was Thomas Modrowski.
Does that name sound familiar? It might, because where is Mr. Modrowski now? He is the president of Braidy Atlas, helping Craig Bouchard do another Russian deal.
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