Liberty's Gupta says has resources to back UK steel ambitions

Thu Apr 7, 2016 10:57am EDT
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By Promit Mukherjee and Krishna N. Das

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sanjeev Gupta, the boss of metals trader Liberty House Group who wants to buy Tata Steel Ltd's (TISC.NS: Quote) loss-making British operations, says he has the financial resources to match his ambitions.

Hitting back at critics who have questioned his capacity to take on a business dragged down by heavy debt and weak sales, the 44-year-old Cambridge graduate said he was serious about making an offer and had the backing of a group with $7 billion of revenues.

"If you look at our financials, we are probably the least leveraged company in our sector," Gupta told Reuters in a phone interview on Thursday.

"We like to punch above our weight, we like to take on challenges, but we know how to stay in business so we never over-stretch ourselves."

Asked how profitable Liberty House's businesses were, a spokesman for the company said it could not provide details at short notice.

Tata, the biggest steel producer in Britain, has been forced to try to sell its British businesses due to high costs, weak demand and a flood of cheap supplies from top producer China. The formal sale process for the assets, which the Indian company bought in 2007, is expected to start by Monday.

Liberty's financial advisers will start due diligence on the assets within a week from that date, said Indian-born Gupta, who founded Liberty House in 1992 and is known among friends and former colleagues as a risk-taker with a strong network among British and U.S. financiers.


Steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta arrives at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London, Britain April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth