Sanjeev Gupta: who is Liberty Steel boss, why has HMRC filed winding-up order and what does it mean for staff?
HMRC lodged a winding-up petition against business Liberty Steel which is owned by Sanjeev Gupta
Sanjeev Gupta is the CEO of the Liberty House Group. (Credit: Getty)
The steel company is owned by billionaire businessman Sanjeev Gupta.
Liberty’s two main plants are at Rotherham and Stocksbridge in Yorkshire.
It comes after the company had a request for £170million of British taxpayers money rejected by HMRC.
The latest move against the company could see thousands of people lose their jobs.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sanjeev Gupta and what the situation means for Liberty Steel.
Who is Sanjeev Gupta?
Sanjeev Gupta, 50, is an Indian-born British tycoon who made his name and fortune in the steel and mining industry.
He is the son of Parduman Gupta, who owns the SIMEC Group, and married wife Nicola Crumpton in 2008, with whom he has three children.
In 1992, Mr Gupta founded the Liberty House Group, with the businessman also serving as CEO and chairman of the Gupta Family Group Alliance (GFG Alliance).
While his net worth is officially unknown, it is thought to be around $1.2billion.
Why has a winding-up petition been launched by HMRC?
The Liberty House Group and other businesses within the GFG Alliance were financed by Greensill Capital until 2021, when the company collapsed.
As a result Mr Gutpa found himself in financial trouble and had a request for £170m of taxpayer money rejected by HMRC.
At the time, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that the request had been rejected due to concerns over the transparency of the finances of the GFG Alliance.
Mr Gupta has been at the centre of controversy after questions were raised over taxpayer loan guarantees which had been extended from Greensill Capital to GFG Alliance under the Covid pandemic loan scheme.
The HMRC has now issued a winding-up petition for Liberty Steel, which could see the business being pushed into insolvency.
What is a winding-up order?
A winding-up order is an instruction from the court for a business to close down and liquidate its assets.
A creditor can lodge a winding-up petition if they have been unsuccessful in attempting to recover their money.
An order is granted if a creditor’s winding-up petition is successful.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “We take a supportive approach to dealing with customers who have tax debts, working with them to find the best possible solution based on their financial circumstances.”
What will happen if the petition is successful?
If HMRC are successful in their petition, Liberty Steel will be forced to close.
Currently there are around 2,000 workers at the company who could lose their jobs as a result of the order.
A Liberty Steel spokesperson said: “Our priority has been to protect thousands of jobs in the UK.
“We are committed to repaying all our creditors and continue to work with all stakeholders around the UK to create a sustainable future for our businesses following the collapse of Greensill Capital.
“Against a very challenging backdrop in the UK with record high energy prices and imports we have provided tens of millions in funding to keep our people in employment and maintain operations to serve customers and strategic supply chains while we complete our refinancing.
“We are in continuous dialogue with all our creditors including HMRC to find an amicable solution that’s in the best interest of all stakeholders.
“Short-term actions that risk destabilising these efforts are not in anyone’s interest, and undermine creditor recovery at a critical stage in our debt restructuring efforts that seek to secure the future of our businesses.”
What have the unions said?
A spokesperson for the Community, Unite and GMB unions said: “This action by HMRC threatens thousands of jobs and is a devastating blow to our members and their families.
“Liberty Steel is a strategically important business, crucial to delivering net zero, and under no circumstances can our plants be allowed to close.
“The trade unions call on GFG and HMRC to get back round the table and hammer out a deal that provides space for the company to refinance.
“The best route to protect jobs and repay HMRC and other creditors would be to enable the business to continue to trade.”
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