Liberty Steel owner Gupta tells creditors: don’t unplug

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  • “Huge” interest from financiers, according to Gupta
  • Britain worried about GFG’s opaque nature
  • Greensill has the security of Liberty’s assets
  • British PM: “very optimistic” that we will get a solution

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he had high hopes the government could find a solution for Liberty Steel which scrambles to raise capital after the collapse of its biggest lender Greensill Capital .

The steelmaker, which employs 3,000 people in Britain and is part of the GFG Alliance conglomerate, has been rocked by the bankruptcy of Greensill, which had granted several billion dollars in loans.

When asked if he would step in to make sure no jobs are lost at Liberty Steel, Johnson said: “I think British steel is a great national asset and the fact that we are making steel. steel in this country is of long-term strategic importance. “

“I am optimistic that we will get a solution,” he said. “It would be crazy if we didn’t use this post-Brexit moment, not to use the flexibility we have, to buy British steel. So that’s what we want to do.”

Johnson said the COVID-19 crisis has shown how important it is not to overly depend on imports of critical items.

He said the government’s infrastructure plans, including wind farms, railways, nuclear power plants, would all need steel.

CONCERNS

Liberty Steel owner Sanjeev Gupta urged creditors not to unplug, saying he has generated huge interest from financiers willing to refinance billions of dollars in debt owed to Greensill. He did not give details of any specific offer.

Gupta said it was natural for lenders to want to protect their position, adding that there had been positive discussions with Grant Thornton, administrator of Greensill.

“It doesn’t make sense for them or any of the creditors to destroy jobs, but more importantly to destroy value because it is the value that will give them the recovery,” said Gupta, 50, on BBC radio.

The steelmaker requested an emergency loan of 170 million pounds ($ 234 million) following the collapse of Greensill.

But UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Tuesday he was concerned about GFG’s “opaque structure” and that there was no guarantee that financial support would remain in the country.

Gupta said he saved thousands of jobs at UK steelworks. Asked about the government’s concerns, he said a key issue was that Greensill had the security of many Liberty assets.

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

“None of our steel plants under my supervision will be closed,” he said.

($ 1 = 0.7273 pounds)

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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