Friday, May 7, 2021

News: Liberty appoints directors to navigate Greensill collapse


Liberty Steel Group has announced the appointment of four experienced board directors who will lead and accelerate a restructuring and refinancing in order to protect and maximise creditor and stakeholder value.

The company, part of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, employs hundreds of staff in South Yorkshire, including in Rotherham. It said that record steel prices and its own operational improvement programme had enabled its core businesses to maintain their strong performance since the beginning of the year.

The appointments represent a step forward in the firm’s response to the collapse of its principal lender, Greensill Capital.

Liberty said that it was "prudently managing cash across its global operations to ensure it has adequate funding for its current needs while its refinancing is completed." It added that it is making good progress with refinancing with LIBERTY Primary Steel and Mining Australia agreeing terms to refinance its Greensill exposure.

A statement from the GFG Alliance, said: "Our Primary Steel and Mining operations in Europe and Australia are booking record profits and we have adequate funding for our current needs.

"In light of Greensill’s collapse, we are taking prudent steps across our global portfolio to manage resources while we bridge to new financing for our businesses.

"We are in regular dialogue with our employees, unions, customers, suppliers, and governments to keep them informed and to explore ways we can work together through the current situation."

The new appointments will join the LIBERTY board with immediate effect and form a new Restructuring & Transformation Committee (RTC) which will be led by an independent Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO), and include an independent Chief Transformation Officer (CTO), a Chief Governance Officer (CGO) and a newly appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The RTC will be supported by LIBERTY management and report to the full LIBERTY board.

The RTC will be given full autonomy to restructure LIBERTY’s operations to focus on core profitable units, and either fix or sell underperforming units. This restructuring combined with the continuing strength in steel and iron ore markets will present a solid basis for the future of LIBERTY. The RTC will support stakeholder engagement and work with the LIBERTY board and its adviser panel, comprising of PJT, Alvarez & Marsal and Norton Rose Fulbright, to negotiate an amicable solution with Greensill’s administrators and other stakeholders which protects value and provides the best outcome for all stakeholders.

Jeffrey S. Stein joins LIBERTY as Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO). Jeffrey is an accomplished corporate executive and director, including leadership and committee positions, of both public and private companies. Jeffrey has served as an Executive Chairman, Chief Restructuring Officer and Liquidating Trustee and as a director on audit, compensation, corporate governance, finance, restructuring, and risk committees including as Chairman of those committees. Jeffrey previously served as Chief Restructuring Officer of Whiting Petroleum Corporation, Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC and Westmoreland Coal Company. Jeffrey has substantial transaction experience, generating positive returns for investors. Jeffrey is a Certified Turnaround Professional as designated by the Turnaround Management Association. Jeffrey will be based in the US but will be present across our businesses as appropriate.

Jeff Kabel joins LIBERTY as Chief Transformation Officer (CTO). Jeff is a commercial leader with broad trading and asset optimisation background in the metals & mining and energy industries. Jeff is Chairman Emeritus of the International Steel Trade Association (ISTA) and helped lead its collaboration with the UK government to align the cost competitiveness of UK producers with their European competition. Before this Jeff was Executive Director at JP Morgan in London where he led the firm’s global ferrous commodity effort. Prior to his time at JP Morgan he operated in a similar capacity at Koch Industries. Jeff will be based in London.

Iain Hunter joins LIBERTY as Chief Governance Officer (CGO). Iain is an experienced business leader with a career spanning over 30 years in financial services including fifteen years serving on boards dealing with a range of governance issues for growth companies and those in more challenged circumstances. Iain served as Chief Executive Officer of Wyelands Bank plc between 2015-2020, prior to which he held several senior leadership positions at CIT Bank Limited including Chief Executive Officer and Chief Risk Officer during the global financial crisis. Iain will be based in Dubai.

Deepak Sogani joins LIBERTY as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and interim CFO for GFG Alliance. Deepak is replacing V Ashok, who has decided to step down for personal reasons. V Ashok will remain in place until the end of May 2021 to ensure a smooth hand over. Deepak is a seasoned global professional with experience across multiple industries including industrial businesses, technology, and financial services. Deepak has a track record for successful restructuring and refinancing situations during major roles in the metals industry, serving as the CFO for the listed steel producer Jindal Steel and Power Limited and, most recently, as Managing Director for Metals & Mining at Essar Capital Services. Deepak will be based in Dubai.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has launched an inquiry examining the current challenges facing the steel industry and issues concerning the sector's long-term viability. Greensill Capital and Liberty Steel are likely to come under scrutiny.

Liberty Steel website

Images: Liberty Steel


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