ArcelorMittal Seeks EU Consent to Buy Gupta’s French Steel Mills

(Bloomberg) — ArcelorMittal SA is seeking approval from European Union regulators after bidding to buy French steel assets from beleaguered tycoon Sanjeev Gupta.

The steel giant is planning to buy the majority of the shares in Liberty Steel France Holding SAS, which owns the Ascoval and Hayange plants, according to European Commission documents. The mills sought creditor protection in April amid financial distress at Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which owns the assets.

Gupta has been struggling to refinance his metals empire after the collapse of Greensill Capital, its biggest lender. GFG is now the target of a U.K. probe into possible fraud and money laundering, which scuppered an attempt to secure new working capital for its British businesses from White Oak Global Advisors LLC.

A spokesperson for ArcelorMittal confirmed it had bid for the assets and said it planned to invest in them.

A spokesperson for Liberty Steel, GFG’s steel arm, said it was taking “prudent steps to explore sale options for these businesses” after they faced “a significant reduction in working capital support since the collapse of Greensill Capital.”

The EU has not given a deal fast-track “simplified” status that would allow for a quick approval. The deadline for ruling on the deal is July 9.

ArcelorMittal sold a string of European steel mills to GFG Alliance in 2019 to assuage antitrust concerns raised when it acquired the Taranto, Italy-based Ilva steelworks. It has since sold the majority of its stake in the plant, which was once the largest in the Europe, to the Italian state.

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