Johnson on Liberty Steel: we’ll use Brexit freedom to get a solution – Metro US

Johnson on Liberty Steel: we’ll use Brexit freedom to get a solution

The Liberty Steel flag flies over the steel plant in
The Liberty Steel flag flies over the steel plant in Dalzell, Scotland

By Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) -Liberty Steel owner Sanjeev Gupta cautioned creditors on Thursday against pulling the plug, saying he had garnered huge interest from financiers willing to refinance billions of dollars in debt owed to failed lender Greensill Capital.

Gupta’s GFG Alliance conglomerate has 30,000 employees across the world but its Liberty Steel has been rocked by the collapse of Greensill, its main financial backer which had extended “many billions” of loans.

Gupta, who established Liberty Steel in 1992 while studying at Cambridge University, said it was natural that lenders wanted to protect their position, adding there were positive discussions with Grant Thornton, administrator for Greensill.

“It makes no sense for them or any of the creditors to destroy jobs, but more importantly to destroy value because that is the value which will give them the recovery,” Gupta, 50, told BBC radio.

“Actually we have a huge amount of interest from new financiers who are willing to back us, who are willing to refinance Greensill,” Gupta said, without going into specifics.

The steelmaker, which employs 3,000 people across Britain, sought a 170 million pound ($234 million) emergency loan following the collapse of Greensill but Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was concerned about the “opaque structure” of GFG.

“We feel that if we gave the money, there was no guarantee that the money would stay in the UK and would protect British jobs,” Kwarteng said on Tuesday.

Gupta said he had saved thousands of jobs at British steel plants and when asked about the government’s concerns, he said one key problem was that Greensill had security of many of Liberty’s assets.

“I’m not waiting for anybody to come to the rescue – we will help ourselves but of course all help from everybody is always welcome,” he said. “Our business in the UK given the current situation could benefit from more working capital.”

Gupta said he used Greensill because he was buying distressed assets for which traditional capital was not available. He said his business owed “many billions” of pounds to Greensill.

He said his global operations overall were profitable and that he would support his UK businesses.

“None of our steel plants under my watch will be shut down,” he said.

Asked about former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s work with Greensill Capital, Gupta said he had not had any interactions with Cameron.

($1 = 0.7273 pounds)

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by William Schomberg and Jason Neely)

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