UK-based Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House Group is set to make an “unconditional and comprehensive offer” for the assets of two flagship French steel businesses. The offer, to be made in court next week, is aimed at securing the jobs of close to 1,600 employees at six operations across France, as well as many supplier jobs.
Liberty plans to invest more than $366 million over five years to stabilise and grow the business, including capital investment of $122 million to upgrade the sites and expand output. “The market synergies between Asco Industries and our existing speciality steels business are compelling and we know that, by working together and complementing each other in the market, both businesses will grow and prosper,” Gupta said.
He said the move will lead to Liberty, part of a wider GFG Alliance, implementing its GreenSteel and GreenAluminium strategies in France. “The pro-business policies of the [French President] Macron government make France an exciting and attractive place for industrial investors such as us and we want to be part of the energetic new environment that is emerging,” he noted.
Under the proposal confirmed on Friday, Liberty has committed to protect the jobs of over 1,500 permanent employees and around 60 apprentices and pursue a wide-ranging development plan which complements its existing speciality steels business. The company will apply its GreenSteel sustainable production strategy to the French operations utilising recycled metal in the manufacture of technically advanced and engineering products.
“We firmly believe that, working together with the Ascometal and Ascoval teams, we can realise our strategy in France and build a globally-recognised manufacturer of speciality steels,” said Chief Executive of Liberty Steel UK Jon Bolton. Liberty’s latest announcement follows a recent statement that the company has made a binding offer to acquire the 570-worker Aluminium Dunkerque — Europe’s largest aluminium smelter — from Rio Tinto as part of a 2-billion-euro investment that will create thousands of new jobs at the site and in the wider economy.
In common with the Asco strategy, Liberty’s plans for Aluminium Dunkerque are linked in part to projected growth in the international automotive market. Liberty Speciality Steels’ offer to acquire the Asco Industries and Ascoval businesses will be formally presented to the court on January 24, with a decision expected soon afterwards.
Liberty Speciality Steels, part of the Liberty House Group, is a member of the GFG Alliance, a London-headquartered international group of businesses founded and owned by the Gupta family, with a revenue of over $10 billion and 12,000 staff.