The boss of the struggling Liberty steel operation has vowed not to close any of its 12 plants in the UK.
The future of the parent global GFG Alliance was thrown into doubt in March when group’s key lender, the specialist bank Greensill Capital went into administration. Liberty Steel is the UK’s third biggest steel maker with at Rotherham, Motherwell, Stocksbridge, Newport and Hartlepool.
GFG owner Sanjeev Gupta is struggling to refinance his business but maintains that none of the plants will shut. But the future looks tough with GFG unsuccessfully seeking government backing of £170 million (EUR 200 million) and some investors starting legal action to have parts of the metals group wound up.
‘Our overall global operations are profitable, we have refinancing offers, we will refinance, and we will support our UK business also,’ Gupta told the BBC. ‘None of my steel plants under my watch will be shut down.’
He added that steel prices were at a 13-year peak, while aluminium prices were also high. GFG, he added, had a ‘huge amount of interest from new financiers who are willing to back us’ and refinance the group.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says making steel in the UK is of strategic long-term importance. ‘We have learned during the pandemic that it is not a good idea to be excessively reliant in times of trouble on imports of critical things.’
Unions representing UK steel workers have urged the government to step in if a funding deal falls through. Last month, France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has said his government would protect jobs at GFG’s French sites.
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