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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Liberty House is expanding its steel business into the US

The industrial conglomerate is finalising the purchase of a steel mill in the US

Mr Gupta made a name for himself through bold plans that transformed the fortunes of UK steel by snapping up distressed businesses. Cole Burston/Bloomberg
Mr Gupta made a name for himself through bold plans that transformed the fortunes of UK steel by snapping up distressed businesses. Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Liberty House, a privately-owned industrial conglomerate with revenue exceeding US$10 billion, said it plans to expand its steel business into the United States in 2018 to meet growing demand from markets like India and China.

The London company is currently finalising the purchase of a steel mill in the US with a capacity of under 1 million tonnes and aims to raise that next year to 5 million tonnes per year, said Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty chief executive.

“Demand for steel will continue as the world gets more and more organised and countries like India, for example, will be the next big user of steel,” he said. “China continues to be the biggest user of steel and it will continue to be so. The switch to a more consumer and services economy will create demand for more cars and fridges and those kinds of things.”

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Mr Gupta said the company's revenues this year exceeded $10 billion from more than $6 billion last year and that he expects further growth in those numbers next year.

The entrepreneur made a name for himself through bold plans that transformed the fortunes of UK steel. He snapped up distressed businesses and replaced iron ore furnaces with more efficient “green” mills that recycle scrap steel. The companies acquired would then use the steel products in a range of “value-added” businesses. These include the Caparo Industries steel products firm he acquired from administrators in 2015 and a business producing steel towers and wind pylons for offshore projects at newly acquired sites in Scotland.

Earlier this year, Liberty acquired a speciality steel operation from Tata Steel UK, a unit of India's Tata Steel, for £100 million (Dh458m). The deal secured the jobs of 1,700 steel workers at major production facilities in Rotherham and Stockbridge, a mill in Brinsworth and at service centres in Wednesbury and Bolton.

The conglomerate is expanding into other businesses including aluminium which is increasingly being used in cars.

"We believe that aluminium is the metal of the future and it is very allied to the steel sector," Mr Gupta said.

The business man said he had no plans at the moment to sell shares to the public but that he might IPO subsidiary businesses next year to test the waters, most likely in one of his energy businesses. He said he doesn't need the cash but wouldn't mind having some on the side.

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