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British government rejects Gupta's $300m loan request: reports


Reports are emerging from the UK that British ministers have rejected a request from steel and mining magnate Sanjeev Gupta, owner of the Whyalla steelworks, for a 170 million pound ($307 million) loan to save his GFG Alliance from potential collapse.

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Gupta has been under immense pressure since his firm’s major supply chain financier Greensill Capital filed for insolvency at the start of the month.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday Gupta was working on plans to raise new loans against parts of the group outside the UK.

He reportedly wrote to the British Government last week requesting loans to fund working capital. But the Financial Times reported that the British government wrote back to Gupta, formally rejecting the request due to multiple concerns.

About 1200 people work at the Whyalla steelworks, the town’s biggest employer.

The South Australian government has already this month ruled out a bailout of its own for the company if it runs into trouble, although the steelworks is reportedly operating profitably at the moment.

The former state Labor government committed to a $50 million support package for the Whyalla steelworks expansion. While the Liberal government has said it will honour the commitment, it is yet to hand over any of the money.

“I’m on the public record as indicating we would only pay that money over if we could see tangible infrastructure projects that would assist the transformation of Whyalla into an efficient operating plant that would continue into the future,” Lucas told InDaily this month.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in using that $50 million of taxpayers money to assist repayment of debt or financing of loans or paying off suppliers.”

UK-based Sanjeev Gupta was hailed a saviour of the business and town after former steelworks owner Arrium went into administration and he took it over, vowing to improve and expand the operation.

Union and community leaders last year stood by Gupta when his global GFG Alliance flagged cuts due to sluggish steel sales.

This included delaying a proposed $1 billion upgrade of the Whyalla plant by as much as seven years.

GFG Alliance’s other Australian interests also include an East Coast integrated manufacturing, distribution and recycling business formerly known as OneSteel, iron ore mines in South Australia, coking-coal operations in NSW and an iron ore bulk handling facility at the Whyalla port.

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