IIn Germany, the name Sanjeev Gupta was previously only known to people who are well versed in the steel industry. That changed abruptly on Friday, because the British steel entrepreneur of Indian descent is reaching for one of the big names in German industry: Gupta, 49, wants to buy Thyssen-Krupp’s entire steel business. On Friday, he surprisingly announced a takeover offer. So far it is non-binding, but Gupta leaves no doubt that he is serious about the advance.
Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Thyssen-Krupp, the financially troubled traditional company from Essen, is only a shadow of former glory years. But the German industrial icon from the Ruhr area is still the largest steel producer in Germany and number two in Europe. The steel business is in high deficit and weighs on the group. But the steel division still employs 27,000 people, a good 25,000 of them in Germany and most of them in the Rhine and Ruhr areas. Thyssen-Krupp is still an important employer in Duisburg, Bochum and Dortmund.
“The man who turns rust into gold”
A glance at Thyssen-Krupp’s share price shows how abruptly Gupta’s offer to buy came: After the offer was announced at the start of trading on Friday morning, the price jumped 25 percent at times – even though the interested party from Great Britain made a brief statement did not even mention a preliminary purchase price. But Gupta is confident. He was convinced that he was “the right partner” for Thyssen-Krupp’s steel division, he said on Friday. In every respect: “economically, socially and in terms of the environment”.
Who is this man who wants to become the biggest player in the German steel industry out of nowhere? The British business newspaper “Financial Times” once called him – half admiringly, half skeptically – a man “who obviously has the talent to turn rust into gold”. Others in Great Britain refer to him as the “savior of steel” because he mainly bought and renovated ailing steelworks.
In 2013 he bought his first steel mill
In any case, Gupta’s ascent to steel baron was dizzying fast: just a few years ago he was a successful commodity trader, but also largely unknown in his home country. In 2013 he bought a steel mill in Wales and went from dealer to manufacturer. A whole series of other acquisitions followed, which made him one of the big names in the steel industry within just a few years. According to its own statements, his Liberty Steel has an annual turnover of 13 billion euros worldwide and employs 30,000 people on four continents. In comparison: Thyssen-Krupp’s steel division generated sales of around 9 billion euros in the past fiscal year.