Rio Tinto’s Aluminium Dunkerque will soon become part of the Liberty House Group family thanks to a binding offer of US$500 million tendered by Sanjeev Gupta’s industrial and metals firm.
According to a brief press release issued by Rio Tinto early yesterday, the offer is “subject to final adjustments” and cannot be formally accepted prior to a state-mandated consultation process with various of the smelter’s stakeholders.
However, Rio Tinto anticipates to close on the sale, which includes modernization plans for the 280,000 tonne a year smelter, this spring.
Rio Tinto’s CEO Alf Barrios says the deal is a win for both his firm and the smelter.
“The binding offer for the sale of Aluminium Dunkerque represents the best option for the future development of the site while also delivering value for Rio Tinto as we continue to streamline our portfolio.
“Liberty House has a track record of investing in similar assets, which should secure a long-term sustainable future for Aluminium Dunkerque and continued economic benefit for the wider community.”
Liberty House, which is part of the GFG (Gupta Family Group) Alliance has been on a shopping spree recently, buying up distressed metals assets in the U.K., the United States, and Australia. Gupta, who is Liberty House’s founder and head of GFG, told Reuters that this acquisition is but the first of many on the European mainland.
“This is GFG’s first significant step into continental Europe, which we hope to build on … not only investing in aluminum, steel and automotive, but also bringing our other divisions including energy, banking and property development to explore opportunities in France and Europe.”
Rio Tinto has signaled for some time that it is ready to sell the asset once the right bidder appeared. Several potential suitors had been rumored for months prior to yesterday’s announcement, with Liberty House, who previously purchased Rio Tinto’s Lochaber smelter, long considered a favorite in a crowded field.