Fast-growing industrials group Liberty, which has bases around Gwent, has appointed Cornelius Louwrens, one of the European metals industry’s most prominent figures, as chief executive of its UK steel division.

Mr Louwrens, who is currently chief executive of NBH Plate, part of the international NLMK Group, will take up his post in February.

He will be responsible both for the performance and sustainability of the existing Liberty Steel UK portfolio, which includes Liberty Steel, Newport and Tredegar, and for leading the group towards its target of building 5m tonnes of Greensteel production capacity.

In addition, he will support Liberty’s global growth strategy in the steel sector.

He will succeed current CEO of Liberty Steel UK, Jon Bolton, who is stepping into the role of international development director, leading the group’s ambitious expansion drive outside the UK.

A mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, who studied management at the Kellogg Business School in the USA, Mr Louwrens has more than 20 years’ experience in senior positions with some of the world’s largest steel companies, including ArcelorMittal and Tata.

Sanjeev Gupta, founder of Liberty and executive chairman of the GFG Alliance, said: “Cornelius brings us a rare combination of top-calibre technical qualifications, excellent operational skills and world-class business leadership. As Liberty expands it footprint across the globe, it is essential that we attract high-quality experienced leaders such as Cornelius to guide and develop key parts of business.”