Indian-origin businessman and founder of the Liberty Group Sanjeev Gupta today formally took charge of Tata Steel’s loss making plants in Scotland.
Gupta, who has also expressed an interest in acquiring Tata’s embattled Welsh unit of Port Talbot, hailed the “fresh chapter” in efforts to begin work on the re-opening and recovery of the two mothballed steel plate operations at Dalzell and Clydebridge in Lanarkshire, negotiations for which began last November.
“Despite the current anxieties surrounding steel, I believe the sector has a future in the UK and, more particularly, a future here in Scotland. Like in Wales and the West Midlands, whereÂ our business model is already at work, steel is very much part of the fabric of Scottish industry and we are confident we have the calibre of people here who will keep it where it belongs, at the heart of the economy,” Gupta said at an official hand-over ceremony at Dalzell today.
He acknowledged the efforts put in by the Scottish government to help Liberty House strike the deal with Tata.
The 44-year-old added: “Without their exceptional and exemplary attitude to saving these plants, we would not have been able to stand here today collecting the keys. I would particularly commend the leadership and tenacity of the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her Business Minister, Fergus Ewing.
“This is our first step in Scotland, based on our experience so far we are confident we can build on this positive relationship, leading us to further opportunities and investments that will benefit the Scottish economy.”
The agreement to save the two plants was completed on March 24 and in coming months Liberty expects to create around 150 new jobs to get the plants up and running again.
The company said it has a vision for “Green Steel”, using renewable energy to melt the readily available supply of scrap in Britain.
Its plan is counter to the current UK steel industry, which relies on the import of iron ore and coal from far flung corners of the globe, the firm said.
Founded in 1992, the Group has turnover approaching USD 7 billion with net assets of USD 1 billion. In the medium term, Liberty wants to create an end-to-end process that starts with the melting of UK recovered scrap steel and continues through the manufacture and distribution of high-quality downstream steel products.
Liberty also announced the appointment of Jon Bolton, a prominent figure in the UK steel industry, as chief executive of its new plate division, encompassing Dalzell and Clydebridge.
Bolton said: “This momentous occasion would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the trade unions and most of all the employees at the two plants.
“Even though we have significant challenges ahead, this is an exciting opportunity to build a sustainable plate business in Scotland and in the UK using our new model and a fresh approach. Our immediate objective is to re-engage with people and with our future customers.”
Tor Farquhar, Tata Steel executive director for HR, said: “As a responsible seller Tata Steel is pleased that a deal to pass the Dalzell and Clydebridge sites to a new owner is nearing completion.
“Today’s ceremony is the next step in a process which could see steel again being processed in Scotland and has been made possible by all parties coming together to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in seeking a potential solution for these sites.”
Liberty Steel, part of the Liberty House, which is part of the Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance, is a global metals and industrials business trading in 30 countries and operating from international hubs in London, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.