No buyers found for US-company Arconic

Grenfell Tower in the aftermath of the deadly 2017 fire

The sale of the US company which manufactured elements of the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower building has fallen through.

Arconic had been reported to be in talks with various potential buyers, but received offers were described as not being in the interest of the shareholders. News of the failed sale saw share values drop by up to 25%.

A key element of the sale was protecting potential buyers from liabilities connected to the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire which left 72 dead. The fire is alleged to have spread throughout the building due to the flammable material used in the cladding.

The Metropolitan Police are continuing to investigate to determine if the fire is a criminal matter, while there is an on-going Public Inquiry under retired Judge Martin Moore-Blick. Results of the inquiry are likely to be published in 2020.

The external cladding used on Grenfell Tower was based on a mix of polyisocyanurate and phenolic insulation panels, protected by aluminium-polyethylene composites.

A peer reviewed paper produced by the University of Central Lancashire which is due to be published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials in April 2019 has found that in comparison to the least-flammable panels, exterior cladding composites used in Grenfell Tower cladding showed 55 times greater peak heat release rates and 70 times greater total heat release.

Arconic, which was previously known as Alcoa, supplied a component of the cladding. The cladding was used despite the product failing tests as early as 2014. In June 2017, the company said it would stop selling the cladding for use in high-rise buildings, pointing to the “inconsistency of building codes across the world”.

To date, there have been no findings of wrongdoing on the part of Arconic.


- Simon Robinson, Editor, Urethanes Technology International, sister magazine to PRW, contributed to this article.