Liberty Steel still looking for buyer for factory near Sheffield

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Liberty Steel has said it is still looking for a buyer for its factory near Sheffield and has appointed a new UK chief executive as the business tries to refinance its debts after its main lender collapsed.

The company said it “is continuing to assess a sales process” for the UK aerospace and special alloys steel plant that it owns in Stocksbridge.

Bosses have been looking for a buyer for the site for more than a month amid pressure on the GFG Alliance, of which Liberty Steel is a part.

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GFG had borrowed heavily from Greensill Capital, a supply chain finance lender, racking up multibillion-dollar arrangements.

Liberty SteelLiberty Steel
Liberty Steel

But administrators for Greensill now want that money back after the lender collapsed in March, forcing GFG to refinance its operations.

Sanjeev Gupta, the tycoon behind GFG, said: “The refinancing of the group, which is progressing well, brings closer the point of being able to honour our obligations to creditors.”

He added: “Despite the difficult circumstances, GFG Alliance contains many high-quality businesses which are performing strongly in record markets where customer demand and pricing are strong.

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“By refocusing our businesses, we will protect more jobs and lay the foundations for future sustainable growth.”

Liberty Steel’s UK managing director, Jon Ferriman, will step down on Friday, while Roy Chowdhury, a turnaround and industry expert, will be appointed chief executive.

GFG said it is progressing in its bid to refinance part of its Australian operations.

A potential deal with business lender White Oak will be enough to pay the unit’s Greensill debt in full, GFG said.

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The business said it is also making moves elsewhere, in Europe, the UK and Australia.

Liberty Steel chief restructuring officer Jeffrey Stein said: “We are aware of the significant challenges facing the group but are pleased that we are making good progress to refinance, repay creditors and refocus the group on our core assets.”

He added: “Much remains to be done but we are optimistic that a vibrant, well-funded, profitable and sustainable business will emerge as we systematically restructure and transform the group.”

- By August Graham, PA City Reporter