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Industry veteran John Neu dies at 74

Keywords: Tags  John Neu, Hugo Neu, Sims, Schnitzer, Wendy Neu, scrap, recycling, obituary

NEW YORK — Scrap industry veteran and Hugo Neu Corp. chairman John L. Neu died Feb. 27 in New York. He was 74.

"He was a great philanthropist and businessman, a pioneer in the recycling industry and an ardent supporter of social justice, animal rights and the environment," a company spokesman said.

Neu worked with New York-based Hugo Neu—a company his father, Hugo Neu, set up in 1947—for 50 years and was set to return to the daily ferrous scrap metal recycling business this year after a long hiatus.

He was a former venture partner with Portland, Ore.-based Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. and was once Sims Group Ltd.’s largest shareholder. Sims acquired Hugo Neu’s scrap operations—including export yards on the East and West coasts, as well as 15 scrap feeder yards—on Oct. 31, 2005, exactly one year after Hugo Neu and Schnitzer ended their decadelong joint export operation.

Schnitzer entered that venture when it acquired Proler International Corp., a Houston-based scrap processor that had worked with Hugo Neu, for about $500 million and the assumption of $155 million debt.

John Neu was named vice chairman of Sims and was given a seat on Sims’ board with a 26-percent share of the company. Relations between Neu and Sims became strained, and Neu left the company and sold 19.9 percent of his stake in Sims to Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Tokyo, in 2007 for about $491 million. However, he retained a minority stake of about 2 percent.

Hugo Neu made a return to the daily scrap business in August 2009, when it bailed out electronics recycler WeRecycle LLC, which was operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company made a $6-million to $7-million investment to take over as majority owner of reorganized WeRecycle Inc., based in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

AMM learned in October 2011 that Hugo Neu would return to the ferrous scrap arena, with a large operation in Puerto Rico (, Oct. 6, 2011). The project is expected to come online in the coming months.

John Neu is survived by his wife, Hugo Neu chief executive officer Wendy Kelman Neu.

The funeral service is scheduled for March 4 at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Avenue at E. 81st St., New York.

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