But that's not the usual result.

"We generally acquire assets that really aren't suited for ongoing use, so the Sparrows Point site is unique in that regard," he said.

Seller RG Steel, which bought Sparrows Point and other steel mills just last year, filed for bankruptcy in May, blaming market conditions for its rapid descent.

The $72.5 million price its Sparrows Point facility brought at auction shocked workers and some steel analysts.

"I've always felt this is a viable mill," said Michael Locker, a consultant with the New York-based Locker Associates. "It's very hard for me to believe that nobody [from the industry] would show up to buy it. … It's a great bargain."

The auction was held 10 weeks after RG Steel filed for bankruptcy, a timeline Locker called "super-accelerated." Hilco told the bankruptcy court that the timeline was "not as long as it could have been," but Jostes said the price was market value.

"The right sum was paid for the present condition of the site and the present condition of the steel industry," he said.


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