April 26, 2018 / 10:38 AM / in 7 months

British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta to buy second bank in UK

LONDON (Reuters) - British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta is in talks to purchase the UK subsidiary of Nigeria’s Diamond Bank as he ramps up efforts to expand the financial services assets in his global business empire.

FILE PHOTO: Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group attends the completion of a 330 pound million deal to buy Britain's last remaining Aluminium smelter in Fort William Lochaber Scotland, Britain December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

Gupta, executive chairman of $10 billion metals, industrials and energy group GFG Alliance, has been snapping up distressed industrial assets in Britain, Australia and the United States over the past few years.

His purchase of Diamond Bank UK, for an undisclosed sum, is subject to UK regulatory approval, having already received approval by Nigerian authorities. It will be renamed British Commonwealth Trade Bank (BCTB) on completion.

“Our first bank, Wyelands Bank, saw a gap in effective financial servicing for mid-sized UK industrial companies targeting developed countries. BCTB will enable us to (help) UK businesses access fast-growing markets, especially within the Commonwealth,” Gupta said.

“Post-Brexit there will be a heightened need to provide competitive financing to British companies in the commodities and industrial sectors as they seek to grow in new markets globally. BCTB will aim to be the ‘bridge’.”

GFG Alliance runs metals group Liberty House and energy and commodities group SIMEC, with assets spanning steelmaking, aluminium smelting, engineering, renewable and non-renewable energy, commodities trading, shipping, property and finance.

UK international trade minister Liam Fox welcomed the transaction, saying it is essential that Britain makes the most of trade and investment opportunities as it leaves the European Union.

Gupta told Reuters in February that his company has no plans to slow its rapid pace of acquisitions this year and could look to raise capital through debt or equity markets.

He plans to spend $1 billion in the next three years to expand his businesses in India, where Liberty House is the preferred bidder for auto component manufacturer Amite Auto India.

Born in Punjab, India, Gupta moved to Britain aged 12 and ventured into business at Cambridge University by selling chemical products to Nigeria, where his industrialist father had business interests.

He rose to prominence in 2016 when he offered to rescue Tata Steel’s UK assets at the height of a steel market crisis that led to job losses, capacity cuts and bankruptcies worldwide.

Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by David Goodman

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