Business India ×
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Interview

Published on: Sept. 20, 2020, 11:35 p.m.
Growth through acquisitions
  • Sanjeev Gupta, Founder, Liberty Steel

By Daksesh Parikh. Executive Editor, Business India

Q Why do governments across various countries support you?

A We support industry and support employment. In developed countries where industries are declining and people are unwilling to invest, we present the governments with a doable turnaround plan. We offer skilled workers an opportunity in these countries. Our belief is to bring industry back to the developed nations. And offer a more sustainable way of restructuring the companies.  

Q How has Covid impacted your plants globally?

A There were a few cases across the globe in our plants. On the whole less than one per cent were infected. One of the reasons being that people working in industrial sites are used to adhering to safety norms. Adding an extra layer or two does not make any difference but provides them considerable protection.
 
Q Covid does not seem to have dimmed your appetite for takeovers. Do you have a big M&A team?

A We have a large M&A team in place and they are continuously scouting and evaluating opportunities. Our policy has been growth through acquisitions. We have closed a few deals in the last six months including two in France and one which is nearing closure in Spain.
 
Q Which are the likely regions offering opportunities?

A Outside of China, the steel industry is likely to see consolidation. In Europe there is a growing movement to change over from carbon steel to green steel. The old guard may not necessarily be the changemakers in the industry. It is no secret that some large companies in Europe are on the block. There are also quite a few small companies across the EU.

  • “We want to make the industry future-proof and leave a cleaner environment for future generations”

Q What are your plans in SIMEC?

A We are continuously examining ways to increase renewable power. We have put in large solar plants in Australia and plan to use the power in producing hydrogen which in turn will be used partially or otherwise in scrap melting. We have also set up alternate energy plants in Scotland and are looking at producing power through tides and waves. The energy solutions we are looking at are to make our plants future-proof. We have also set up a plant for generating energy from waste.
 
Q How are you confident of turning around Port Talbot when Tatas have not succeeded?

B I am a very big fan of the Tatas. They are a great company and what Ratan Tata has achieved is remarkable. Ratan Tata is my idol. We have fine-tuned a model for recycling steel and have global resources for sourcing scrap material. For us, our centre of gravity is the UK; for Tatas it is India. Port Talbot is a great site and I am confident of turning it around. We can, if required, forge a partnership with Tatas and make it happen. It will be an honour to work with Tatas.
 
Q What can you do which others cannot?

A We have set up global scrap sourcing and recycling plants in place to make each of our plants self-sufficient. Getting scrap and setting up renewable plants can certainly be done by others. If our plans to make green steel are copied, I will be most happy. The point is that not many have been investing in it so far. The UK, for instance, exports five million tonnes of scrap annually and imports 10 million tonnes of finished steel products. We aim to change that.
 
Q What is your aim going ahead in aluminium?

A The aim is to produce at least one million tonne of aluminium over the next two years, maybe earlier. We are currently engaged in making canned water from the rivers in Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland. The cans will be reusable. The need is to move away from plastic and leave a better environment for the next generation.

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