SYDNEY (Reuters) - Britain’s Liberty House Group said on Monday it submitted a revised bid for troubled Australian steel group Arrium Ltd (ARI.AX), after last week conceding defeat to a South Korean private equity syndicate.
“We remain passionate about the opportunity and intend to continue pursuing discussions,” Liberty House said in an email to Reuters.
The Seoul-based private equity syndicate led by Newlake Alliance and JB Asset Management was named on June 15 as the preferred bidder over Liberty, and that was thought to be the end of more than a year of Morgan Stanley-led (MS.N) efforts to provide a financial rescue package to Arrium.
Morgan Stanley recommended the Newlake and JB Asset consortium to Arrium’s committee of creditors, which overwhelmingly supported the South Korean group, according to the steelmaker’s financial administrator, KordaMentha.
The creditors’ committee includes Australian lenders Commonwealth Bank (CBA.AX), National Australia Bank (NAB.AX), Westpac (WBC.AX) and ANZ Bank (ANZ.AX), which together are owed a combined A$1 billion ($761 million).
KordaMentha confirmed a revised bid had been submitted by Liberty House, but said administrators continued to deal with the Korean consortium on an exclusive basis.
South Australia state has pledged A$50 million to the new owner to help upgrade Arrium’s steelworks.
A spokesman for the South Australia treasurer, Tom Koutsantonis, said the state would work with either group to keep Arrium in business.
Newlake’s and JB’s bid proposes spending more than A$1 billion on the Whyalla upgrade and on Arrium’s mini-mills, steel distribution and iron ore mining divisions. The consortium also plans to build a gas-fired power station to feed the steelworks, which would help combat South Australia’s energy shortage.
Newlake has said it will use the Finex steelmaking technology under license from South Korean steelmaker POSCO (005490.KS) to revamp the Arrium’s main Whyalla steelworks.
The decision to use the technology played a key role in the selection process, according to KordaMentha.
Newlake and JB West were not immediately available for comment.
Liberty House, which operates together with commodities and energy conglomerate SIMEC under the $9.4 billion Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance, hit the headlines last year when it offered to rescue steel plants owned by Tata Steel UK (TISC.NS) that were on the verge of shutdown.
Liberty’s so-called green metal model is based on using renewable energy to fire furnaces and smelters that recycle local scrap and sell the finished metal to manufacturers.
($1 = 1.3141 Australian dollars)
Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Tom Hogue