#LibertyHouse plans new #Aluminium business In Paris

| January 31, 2020

One of Europe’s largest aluminium producers has announced plans to locate its headquarters in Paris as part of moves to integrate its operations. Liberty House, which is owned by metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, said that it would combine its various aluminium businesses into a new enterprise called the Alvance Aluminium Group.

The new company’s assets will include Europe’s largest aluminium smelter at Dunkirk, France, and the UK’s only smelter in Fort William, Scotland.

Liberty House will retain the group’s steel assets, which have grown significantly in recent years and now have revenues approaching $20 billion a year. Liberty’s decision to locate the new aluminium business in Paris has sparked criticism after heavy investment in the Fort William smelter by the Scottish government.

“What a pity that the combined group is being headquartered in Paris rather than Edinburgh or Glasgow given the vast financial support from the Scottish taxpayer,” wrote a commentator on the Financial Times’ website. This was one of a number of attacks against Liberty House and Gupta made by an individual calling themselves “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”.

However, these negative comments have provoked a backlash among the FT’s readers as some have sought to defend Liberty House.

Tim Moore wrote: “Here we go again: Gupta announces plans to increase transparency and the usual suspects immediate start complaining. “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” (real name Daniel Sheard) never misses an opportunity to stick the boot into Liberty and Gupta. Sheard should get a life.”

The mention of Daniel Sheard appears to refer to a former investment manager who was made redundant by Switzerland-based GAM in 2018. Sheard had complained about investments made by GAM’s star fund manager Tim Hayward into Liberty House and the Swiss firm launched an internal investigation.

Hayward was subsequently sacked by GAM for gross misconduct, although he has said he will challenge this decision. The money invested by GAM was repaid in full by Liberty House.

Sheard’s apparent attack on Liberty House in the media has been noticed by investors, who are monitoring the company ahead of a proposed $8 billion initial public offering (IPO).

“Someone is feeding the FT negative stories,” wrote George Bailey on Reddit’s investing pages. “I heard it was Daniel Sheard – the guy that got kicked out of GAM after its funding arrangements with Liberty were made public. He’s bitter about what happened and is trying to screw Gupta.”

Bailey also pointed out that Daniel Sheard was “kicked out” of Hypo Foreign & Colonial in the 1990s after “lying about the performance of his fund”.

This is a reference to an event in 1994 when Sheard was manager of the £5m Reserve Asset Fund for Hypo F&C. According to the Independent, Sheard had mispriced the fund for more than seven months due to the pressure he was under managing another F&C fund.

Sheard is quoted saying: “I was suffering from great pressure of work at the time as a result of my work with the Higher Income Plan and this was another problem with which I could not cope.”

F&C was forced to pump nearly £300,000 into the Reserve Fund to correct the mistake and Sheard left the company.

 

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