February 21, 2018 / 6:02 AM / 4 months ago

INTERVIEW-UK billionaire Gupta sees no let-up in acquisitions in 2018

MELBOURNE, Feb 21 (Reuters) - British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta said his GFG Alliance has no plans to slow its rapid pace of acquisitions over the coming year, and could look to raise capital through debt or equity markets.

Gupta, who heads the $10 billion turnover consortium that runs metals group Liberty House and energy and commodities group SIMEC, said GFG is pursuing several assets in auto and in steel in India and aims to build out its new Australian business.

“We are looking to do a bank in Australia. That’s being explored, whether to acquire or start a new one. We are definitely committed,” Gupta, GFG’s executive chairman, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

GFG has spent or committed to spending around $5 billion on assets and asset rejuvenation in the past 18 months, according to Reuters calculations, after snapping up aging steel and aluminium plants around the world.

“Absolutely, if not faster,” Gupta said, when asked if it would maintain the same pace of M&A this year.

GFG has previously said it wants to list parts of its multi-billion dollar business, with the listing of a steel asset in the United States most likely.

“So far we’ve been quite fortunate in that the Gupta group is quite well capitalized so a lot of capital is being provided internally,” Gupta said.

“It’s a cash-rich business. And we do a lot of long term structured lending as well. But it’s about time that we entered the capital markets, whether that’s debt or equity or a combination of the two.”

Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin

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