British Steel’s Chinese owner poised to snap up plants owned by beleaguered metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta
The Chinese owner of British Steel is eyeing plants owned by metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta.
With Gupta’s empire under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Jingye Group is reportedly willing to step in.
The tycoon’s Liberty Steel employs 5,000 workers at a dozen sites in Britain but those jobs are on the line after Gupta’s biggest lender, Greensill Capital, collapsed.
With Sanjeev Gupta’s empire under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, British Steel owner Jingye Group is reportedly willing to step in if the business fails
So far, his efforts to find money to keep it alive have come to nothing after a potential American partner walked away and the Government rejected a request for £170million.
And the SFO confirmed last week it is investigating Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which includes Liberty Steel, throwing his rescue plans further into doubt.
Jingye has told officials it could take on parts of Liberty Steel, although talks remain at an ‘exploratory stage’, the Financial Times reported.
‘There have already been discussions with government,’ one person said. Other bidders are said to include India’s JSW Steel.
Jingye’s interest creates a conundrum for the Government.
Ministers are reluctant to nationalise Liberty Steel but will be wary of Jingye given growing tensions between the UK and China – and concern about investment by Beijing in national infrastructure.
A deal could prompt security fears, with British defence contractor Rolls-Royce among Liberty clients.
An alternative is for Liberty to be put under the control of the Official Receiver – as with British Steel in 2019. At a cost of £1million a day, the Government kept it going while seeking a buyer.