Arconic halts sale of Grenfell Tower cladding panels for high rises

The American manufacturer of aluminum composite panels used as cladding in London’s Grenfell Tower has halted sales of the product for use in high-rise buildings.

At least 79 people were killed when the building burnt down on June 14.

Arconic, which was spun out of Alcoa in 2016, supplied its Reynobond PE panels to a distributor for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in 2015.

“Arconic is discontinuing global sales of Reynobond PE for use in high-rise applications,” the company said in a statement.

“We believe this is the right decision because of the inconsistency of building codes across the world and issues that have arisen in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy regarding code compliance of cladding systems in the context of buildings’ overall designs.”

Shares in Arconic fell more than 6% Monday.

Reuters reported on Monday that it had seen six emails sent or received by an Arconic sales manager in 2014 that raise questions about why the company supplied combustible cladding for use at Grenfell Tower, despite publicly warning such panels were a fire risk for tall buildings.

Arconic said Reynobond PE was used as one component of the overall cladding system.

“We did not supply other parts of this cladding system, including the insulation,” it said in a statement responding to the Reuters report. “While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts.”

A criminal investigation has begun into the tragedy.

The police investigation is focused on how the blaze started, how it spread so fast and whether any person or organizations should be held responsible.

Samples of insulation from the tower and equivalent aluminum composite tiles sent by police for analysis have failed safety tests.

The British government is carrying out tests on 600 high-rise buildings across England that are covered in cladding. All 75 buildings tested so far have failed, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The British insurance industry said Monday it had been calling for a review of building regulations that relate to fire safety — including the use of external cladding — since 2009.

In a statement emailed to CNNMoney, the Association of British Insurers also said it had warned the U.K. government last month that external cladding made from combustible material could cause fire to spread.

— Rob North, Mark Thompson and Katie Polglase contributed reporting.