Steelmaker Liberty to install ex-British Steel boss as Europe chief
One of British industry’s most prominent figures is being parachuted into Liberty Steel Group, the manufacturing group owned by tycoon Sanjeev Gupta.
Sky News has learnt that Roland Junck, who chaired British Steel until shortly before its recent takeover by China’s Jingye Group, will be named this week as the head of Liberty’s European operations.
The appointment of Mr Junck, who also ran ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s largest steel companies, is likely to be regarded as a coup for Liberty, which has faced growing scrutiny over its financing and corporate governance.
Sources said on Tuesday that the appointment of a major audit firm would also be announced later this week by GFG.
The developments come as the UK steel industry, like many others, faces searching questions about its future amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberty Steel Group is a new entity formed to consolidate Mr Gupta’s steel businesses around the world.
It is part of the GFG Alliance, an umbrella grouping of companies that are owned by Mr Gupta and his family.
The steelmaking arm employs 30,000 employees on four continents.
In the UK, it includes steelworks in Rotherham, Stocksbridge, Hartlepool, Newport, Clydesbridge and Dalzell.
Last week, it said it would idle liquid steel production at its Rotherham steelworks for a period of three weeks, and place the employees involved in it on furlough, with their wages subsidised by the taxpayer.
“It remains our goal to keep our steelworks open, given the key role our industry plays in supplying equipment for essential industries – including healthcare, food production and national infrastructure,” the company said at the time.
Originally from Luxembourg, Mr Junck was a key figure at British Steel – the owner of Scunthorpe’s steelworks – during its ownership by the turnaround firm Greybull Capital.
The company collapsed into liquidation nearly a year ago after the government refused to provide emergency funding, and was funded by a taxpayer guarantee until its sale to Jingye earlier this year.
One source said his recruitment by Liberty represented “a sign of strength and confidence in the business to recruit such a prominent figure in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis”.
A GFG spokesman declined to comment on Mr Junck’s impending appointment.
(c) Sky News 2020: Steelmaker Liberty to install ex-British Steel boss as Europe chief