Metal Magnate Targets String of Smaller Steel Buys in India
Iron ingots sit inside of a container at a foundry. (Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg)

Metal Magnate Targets String of Smaller Steel Buys in India

British metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta is aiming to buy at least half a dozen smaller steel plants in India by 2025 after losing out on bigger purchases in the second-biggest producer.

GFG Alliance, owned by the commodities trader-turned-serial deal maker, had in the past bid for big-ticket stressed steel assets in India that were being sold under the country’s ongoing bankruptcy process, but lost out to rivals. It recently snapped up Adhunik Metaliks Ltd. under the insolvency law and plans to start production at the 500,000 tons a year facility next month, establishing its presence in India.

“Since we were unable to acquire any big asset, we will instead go with the string of pearls strategy,” and look to buy plants having capacities of 300,000-500,000 tons, which can be scaled to 2 million tons or more, Gupta said in an interview. “We would like to be at least 5 million tons in a short space of time.”

Gupta has been on a buying spree in recent years, acquiring debt-laden steel and aluminum assets during the 2015 and 2016 commodity crisis. Most recently, he agreed to buy Novelis Inc.’s Duffel aluminum operations in Belgium, a rail facility in France and a ferro alloy producer in Australia. Further forays are planned in aluminum and renewable energy all through the value chain globally and in India.

“India is going to be center-stage for our future development,” Gupta said “We may have started a bit slower or had stumbled a bit in the beginning but now we are on a very strong footing.”

The “seismic shock” of the coronavirus outbreak will spark a wave of consolidation in Europe and some other parts of the world and would provide opportunities for GFG to expand further, Gupta said. As his business grows, Gupta will explore different capital structures including public offers for some group companies and tying up with strategic partners.

“Right now there is huge amount of liquidity in the market, debt rates are very low, there is a lot of excess liquidity in the world,” he said. “So there is no shortage of capital for a good business.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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