Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group, poses for a photograph in Sydney, Australia. (Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg)

Tycoon Gupta to Target Australia in Financial Services Expansion

(Bloomberg) -- Tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance is planning an expansion of its financial services business outside of Europe, targeting opportunities to provide lending and insurance to mid-sized businesses.

“All industries go through this turnaround where new blood is required, and certainly in financial services,” Gupta, GFG’s executive chairman, told Bloomberg Television Wednesday in an interview. “Whether it’s in banking, in insurance, whether it’s other forms of finance, we see a great opportunity serving the middle market.”

Tycoon Gupta to Target Australia in Financial Services Expansion

GFG will expand its banking and insurance arm into Australia, targeting business with companies in the $50 million to $500 million range, according to Gupta. “That’s the customer base which is the least served,” he said.

Financial services is the fastest growing “vertical” for the group, which also encompasses metals, energy and landholdings, Gupta told the Bloomberg Invest summit in Sydney.

Read more: Metals Tycoon Targets Australia Renewables to Power Industry

After snapping up steel and energy assets in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. in a $3 billion deals spree, GFG last month agreed to buy the U.K. unit of Nigeria’s Diamond Bank Plc. The group’s Wyelands Capital unit in March announced the acquisition of insurance provider Trans-World Credit Corp., and said it had taken a stake in Demica Ltd., a U.K.-based fintech company.

GFG may consider opportunities in retail banking, particularly focused on the application of new technology, though the key focus will remain on mid-sized companies, Gupta told the summit.

Australia’s four biggest banks -- Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp., National Australia Bank Ltd. and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. -- have been plagued by a string of scandals. The federal government finally bowed to pressure and set up an inquiry in November.

Gupta also said:

  • GFG sees major opportunities in India despite challenges with regulation and infrastructure, and is continuing to pursue three deals under the sell-off of assets prompted by th introduction of the nation’s first consolidated bankruptcy law
  • A court’s decision this week to give final approval for Tata Steel Ltd. to purchase the assets of Bhushan Steel Ltd., shows there is new momentum in the selloff process
  • GFG’s Simec Zen Energy unit’s work to install the world’s biggest battery in South Australia should have the facility up and running in about two years

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