The Gupta family, whose wider interests include the international energy, metals, industrial and trading groups SIMEC and Liberty House, has acquired further businesses from within the former Caparo Industries plc, as it targets major growth opportunities in the advanced engineering sectors. In an agreement with administrators PwC, the family acquired parts of Caparo’s advanced engineering products and precision strip businesses based at sites across the West Midlands.
The engineering businesses – now called Liberty Advanced Engineering Products – command a high-profile customer base, with products including anti-vibration systems for naval vessels and high performance braking systems for NASCAR, London Taxis, US Yellow school buses, the upgraded Warrior Land Rover, featured in the new Bond film, Spectre, as well as the iconic T1 Evolution Hyper Car. Today’s move, which follows the Guptas’ purchase a week ago of businesses in Caparo’s Tubular Solutions division – now renamed Liberty Tubular Solutions – marks a widening of the family’s strategy to invest in the future of UK manufacturing and engineering.
Liberty House Group Managing Director, Sanjeev Gupta, said the latest acquisitions represented a major opportunity to preserve and develop what he described as “the cream of British engineering expertise.” “These businesses contain some world-leading knowledge and skill that has the potential to contribute to a significant engineering revival in the UK. Despite current difficulties, advanced engineering can create enormous value for the UK economy and I’m convinced that, based on the right business model, operations like these have strong growth potential in the UK and across various markets internationally where Liberty is present,” he said.
The former Caparo engineering and precision strip businesses being acquired employ a total of more than 600 people. Together with the Tubular Solutions jobs saved last week, this acquisition brings the total to more than 950. Mr Gupta added: “We must protect the skill and expertise within these businesses and, over the coming months, will be looking closely at the operations and developing strategic plans to secure their long-term future. Investing in the future of advanced engineering in the UK dovetails well with our strategy to develop the manufacture and distribution of steel and steel-based products in the UK.”
Liberty recently restarted production of hot-rolled coil at its rolling mill in Newport, South Wales and hopes eventually to recommence melting operations at the same site which has an arc furnace already in place. The rolling mill has the current capacity to produce around 1m tonnes of coil a year. Mr Gupta explained that Liberty Advanced Engineering Products would be focusing on increasing sales and new product development for the aerospace, defence and automotive markets, which, he said, have greatest growth prospects.
Worldwide automotive sales are growing strongly along with an expected increase of 25% in the global wide-bodied jet fleet over the next five to ten years. The current international security situation is also expected to drive increased demand for defence products. He concluded, “Acquisition of key Caparo assets underpins our strategy to integrate from liquid steel to finished engineering products, which we will continue to build upon in the UK.”