LONDON: Indian-origin businessman and founder of the Liberty Group Sanjeev Gupta has formally taken 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, where 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 caliber 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.
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.
Criminal investigation into Tata Steel
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has launched a “criminal investigation” into workings of Tata Steel UK in relation to certain events of 2015, amid the steel maker scouting buyers for its loss-making business.
The matter relates to certain inappropriate testing and certification procedures at the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels business and a full investigation that was carried out internally with the help of experts.
In a statement, Tata Steel UK said it had informed relevant bodies, including SFO, about the issue after completion of internal investigation.
“Amongst other bodies proactively notified by Tata Steel UK was the Serious Fraud Office, which has opened a criminal investigation,” Tata Steel UK said.
Without disclosing specific details about the probe, the company said since the initial notification, it has been cooperating fully with the SFO in their investigation.
“It is not appropriate for Tata Steel to comment on that investigation,” the statement said.
Earlier in the day, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ reported that SFO has launched a criminal inquiry into the workings of Tata Steel UK.
When contacted, the SFO told PTI that it was “declining to comment” on the matter at this stage.
During an internal audit in 2015, Tata Steel said it came across certain inappropriate testing and certification procedures at the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels business.
Speciality Steels produces around 225,000 tonnes of steel, comprising around 3 per cent of Tata Steel Europe’s total output, and 275 million pounds of turnover, it said.
This is also Tata Steel Europe’s only electric arc furnace-based business.
“Tata Steel UK took immediate action to address the issues uncovered. The practices were immediately stopped. A detailed investigation was carried out by a technical team from outside the Speciality Steel business, and its conclusions were verified by independent experts.
“The investigation found the steel affected and supplied was always well within safety margins,” the statement said.-PTI