Liberty Steel, founded by commodities tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, on Friday said it had made a non-binding offer for ThyssenKrupp’s steel unit, hoping to forge a European champion to master the transformation towards carbon-neutral production.
A deal would combine the continent’s fourth- and second-largest steelmakers after a planned joint venture between ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel was blocked in 2019.
“I truly believe in the future of European steel,” Gupta told journalists during a call. “By investing in green steel I believe the industry can transform and thrive in the long-term.” He said that steel as a business needed time, adding that was one of the reasons why belonged in private hands. Gupta shied away from putting a number on expected synergies.
ThyssenKrupp shares surged as much as 23 per cent, and the Essen-based company said it would carefully study the offer, details of which were not disclosed, even as it continues talks with other potential partners.
Liberty said it was open to intensifying talks to explore making a binding offer for the unit.
Germany’s most powerful union IG Metall has opposed a potential bid, fearing it could lead to painful job cuts.
Formed by Gupta last year, Liberty Steel is a unit of Britain-based conglomerate GFG and comprises all of his family’s steel activities. It has been on a European buying spree, most recently in France, where it acquired the Hayange business owned by British Steel.
ThyssenKrupp CEO Martina Merz said this week the company would consider all options for the unit, including selling a stake to the German government. It is also exploring tie-ups with Germany's Salzgitter, Sweden's SSAB and Tata once again, sources have told Reuters.