In October 2022, the UK-based company Hill & Smith Holdings PLC sold its French galvanising and steel lighting operations, France Galva, to ZINQ France and Sofigalva for €72.6 million. 

Having originally acquired it in 2008, Hill & Smith – which specialises in construction and infrastructure products – has maintained a strong market position in France as a result. 

But with recent forecast growth rates failing to meet their long-term growth ambitions, it decided to sell France Galva and focus instead on higher-growth markets. 

Prior to the sale, we were appointed to conduct the environmental due diligence assessment of 10 sites across France which make up the extensive France Galva portfolio.  

What is environmental due diligence and how do we assess it?  

Environmental due diligence is a key component of the risk management process – and is even more critical now with new climate change legislation.   

Due diligence takes many forms, but environmental due diligence specifically assesses actual or possible presence of environmental risks and liabilities at a site or business.  

Our first task was to assess the facilities at the 10 France Galva sites and their compliance with local environmental regulations. These assessments considered soil and groundwater contamination at the sites due to past, present or nearby land use. 

We also assessed the associated risk for future environmental liability, which can incur significant costs for the company. Our team then used the available information to generate cost estimates relating to these potential liability scenarios. 

Our expertise has been instrumental in providing accurate and timely assessments of all 10 sites across France Galva’s portfolio.  

Presenting the data

Through a combination of site visits and staff interviews, we were able to produce comprehensive and detailed reports for each site. These reports were then used to support the assessment conclusions.  

A key outcome of this work was developing a portfolio overview report, which contained a visually clear presentation of the key findings including factual summary tables.   

Our specialists also provided technical assistance during conversations with the buyers’ advisors. This way, we could successfully communicate the results and feed in expert insight when required.  

Minimising risk, elevating sustainability

Our expertise has been instrumental in providing accurate and timely assessments of all 10 sites across France Galva’s portfolio.  

By developing a comprehensive overview, we are helping build transparency surrounding the existing and potential environmental contamination across these sites.  

With this knowledge, proactive steps can now be taken to minimise further impact, avoid costs and ensure a more sustainable future.