LONDON (Reuters) - Liberty House Group, an industrial and commodities group which has been buying up British steel assets, could list parts of the company in London by 2018, its executive chairman told Reuters on Friday.
Twenty-five years after setting up the company when he was a student at the University of Cambridge, Sanjeev Gupta said he wants to tap either the equity or debt market to raise capital to expand. His businesses now generate turnover of more than $6 billion.
Liberty is part of the Gupta Family Group (GFG), which includes his father’s energy and commodities business SIMEC. The family’s assets span steel mills and aluminium smelters to hydro-power plants and a private bank.
“Going into the equity or bonds market to raise funds to keep our expansion going and make the businesses even more transparent is a logical next step,” Gupta told Reuters from his Mayfair office.
“We are talking to our banking advisors… we don’t want to list the (Liberty House) group as a whole, but would look at individual businesses and would aim to retain a majority (share),” he said, adding there was no firm decision yet.
Liberty House, which has previously worked with Australian investment bank Macquarie as an advisor and potential source of funding, is in talks with four banking advisors for the potential listing in London. It was not clear whether Macquarie is one of them.
Gupta hit the headlines last year when he bid to acquire Tata Steel’s loss-making Port Talbot operations in South Wales, before the Indian conglomerate opted to engage in merger talks with German rival Thyssenkrupp.
In the past year, the British businessman spent around $630 million on acquisitions, including Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter in Scotland and the Tungsten bank business from British financier Edi Truell.
With a strategy of buying mostly distressed assets, he is conducting due diligence on the $120 million specialty steel unit that Tata Steel put up for sale in northern England. He is also bidding to buy Australia’s bankrupt steel producer Arrium and three steel businesses in the United States.
Gupta has moved downstream by buying up engineering firms that will consume the steel his plants produce, and turn it into higher value added, more lucrative end-products.
His model for producing steel profitably and sustainably in Britain is to use local supplies of scrap and renewable energy to make the alloy, instead of importing expensive steelmaking raw materials such as iron ore and coking coal.
“The future of the West is in steel recycling, not primary production,” Gupta said.
Reporting by Clara Denina; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle