Liberty Steel owner and GFG Alliance chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, has said that none of his UK steel operations will close “under my watch,” in a video interview on Apr 2.
Speaking to the BBC, Gupta stated that he and his team had “taken matters into our own hands”, given that there was significant interest from the global financing community to refinance Liberty’s operations.
When asked why he had not transferred funds from other operations or even his own private funds, Gupta responded that though their global business was profitable, certain restrictions at present made it difficult to transfer those funds in the near term.
Last week reports surfaced that the UK government rejected Liberty’s bailout application based on concerns about the “opaque” nature of the company’s funding structure, perceived financial risk, and corporate governance.
According to sources close to the UK Treasury, it was felt that Sanjeev Gupta’s wealth and global assets were “an impediment to government support.”
Asked if he should step aside, Gupta defiantly stated that he was not going to give up on the steel operations that he and his team had turned around after taking over plants that “were in the process of shutting.” He added that UK’s steel industry had been “decimated for the past two decades.”
On Greensill, he commended the importance of the role they played in financing the original acquisitions given that the financier had allowed Liberty to acquire the UK plants on the verge of shutting down and make them operable again.
He told the BBC that the way in which Greensill structured the financing facilities by lending against receivables was innovative as “in those circumstances, you can’t just go and ask for a bond or a long-term loan.”
Liberty Steel has about 3,000 workers at sites including Rotherham, Motherwell, and Newport. A further 2,000 people work for GFG Alliance in other UK metals and engineering businesses.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped that the plants could be saved and that the UK needed a “strong steel industry.”