Officials hope Connecticut company will rescue jobs recently terminated when Mississippi company closed suddenly
Published 12:17 pm Saturday, December 16, 2023
Officials in southwest Mississippi hope that a Connecticut company will help save 74 jobs and bring new life to a company that closed suddenly last week.
Delta-Energy Natchez ceased to operate recently and terminated most of its staff at the Natchez facility, where it worked to extract the chemical components from old tires to be used to produce new tires.
Phibro, a global low-carbon commodity company based in Stamford, Connecticut, plans to purchase the hard assets of Delta-Energy Natchez LLC, according to Chandler Russ, executive director of Natchez Inc.
Russ said Friday afternoon that Phibro’s plans to purchase those assets are “the best case scenario possible” for Natchez and Adams County.
“The owner accepted the bid for the entire assets,” Russ said. “Phibro is an entity that plans to operate and potentially expand the facility, adding capital investment and possibly more jobs, though we still have some work to do. And they look forward to working with the county on this opportunity.”
Simon T.W. Greenshields, president and CEO of Phibro, said operating the facility in Natchez is his company’s intention.
“A few balls are still up in the air,” Greenshields said. “We are speaking with the county about this very subject matter. We are looking to enter into a new lease agreement, and we are working with some of the suppliers. We are optimistic we will be able to stay. We only purchased the assets from Delta, we did not purchase the company.”
He said he hopes details with the county could be worked out by early January 2024.
“The timing is not great with it being the holiday period, but it is certainly my hope and desire that we could have things worked out by early in January,” Greenshields said.
Russ said he is excited about the opportunity for Phibro to operate the facility in Natchez.
“They are a solid company and this industry is in their wheelhouse,” he said.
Delta-Energy Natchez has a long-term lease with Adams County for space in the old International Paper Co. facility, from which the company operated.
The Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to try to ensure the company lives up to the terms of its long-term lease with the county. The suit claims Delta-Energy Natchez failed to notify the county board that it has closed operations here or that it planned to auction off its equipment on Dec. 14, which are required according to the lease agreement.
The court ordered that Delta-Energy could go forward with holding the auction on Thursday to gather prices, but no sale could be finalized on the business or any equipment being offered for sale.
Delta-Energy Natchez LLC’s is a privately-held company. Majority owner is Castleton Commodities International. Bridgestone was a partner in Delta-Energy with its primary owner, Castleton Commodities, and was the company’s largest customer.
At its highest point, Delta-Energy Natchez employed 74 people here.
“We certainly are hopeful that Bridgestone will continue to play an important role as an off taker of products, but that is something that I can’t confirm at this point. They have been one of the primary off-takers, and it will be our intent to work with them and with all of the tire vendors. On an historical basis, Bridgestone has been an important participant and also an investor in the plan,” Greenshields said.
Historically, Phibro has been in the commodity trading and asset development business.
Greenshields and some others he worked with at Morgan Stanley acquired Phibro in 2016.
“It was our desire and it has played out for us to develop a green energy platform, such as clean hydrogen and clean energy. This plant fits within that and renewable resources like carbon black I think will continue to be important going forward,” he said.
According to his biography on the Phibro website, Greenshields has more than 35 years of experience in the physical and financial commodity markets, including the development of Morgan Stanley’s asset-based commodity trading model.
Prior to Phibro, Greenshields served as global co-head of Morgan Stanley’s Commodity Division. His career at Morgan Stanley spanned more than 30 years.