NRI Dunia
Think Outside The Box

Liberty Group open to idea of acquiring Tata Steel UK assets

Liberty Group founder Sanjeev Gupta says he is ready to acquire Tata Steel’s Port Talbot facility if the opportunity arises.

Gupta, who was born in Ludhiana but spent two years of his childhood in Park Street’s Apsara Apartment when his parents moved to Calcutta, says: “The Tatas are very close to Liberty Group; always have been.

We have done many things together. We are always open for every type of co-operation with them.” Asked if he would look at Port Talbot if it was offered by the Tatas, Gupta said: “Of course.”

Gupta, executive chairman of UK-based GFG Alliance which includes Liberty Steel, spoke to The Telegraph a day after the media in the UK reported that the government and the Tatas had failed to agree on a financial rescue package for Tata Steel UK.

Gupta added: “We will look at any steel assets, not only Port Talbot, that may come our way in the markets we operate in.”

The London-based investor, known to pick up stressed assets, had bought Tata Steel UK’s speciality steel business for £100 million three years ago.

Speculation about Tata Steel looking to sell its chronically loss making steel business in the UK that devolved from its $12-billion Corus acquisition in 2007 resurfaced after the Boris Johnson-led government refused to provide any bailout funds to haul the steel mill out of its Covid-induced crisis.

Asked if the pressure will mount on the Tatas to look for a buyer or induct a partner after failing to secure bailout funds, Gupta said he could not speculate on what the Tatas should or should not do.

However, Liberty appeared to have become a favoured port of call whenever large legacy integrated players look to shed flab. When ArcelorMittal was required to offload a few European mills to pass the competition control test before acquiring Ilva in Italy in 2019, Gupta was right there scooping up seven units spread across the continent.

Soon after, GFG brought steel operations in the UK, Europe and Australia under Liberty Steel, making it one of the top-10 producers outside China with a rolling capacity of 18 million tonnes (mt).