Sanjeev has the latest business update in this edition of the podcast
Sanjeev has the latest business update in this edition of the podcast. Also, we’ll find out which extreme sport was making some noise at ALVANCE British Aluminium.
Plus, there’s news of a GFG royal visit. And we’ll meet Sandip Biswas, GFG’s Group Chief Investment Officer. 17 mins

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Show Transcript
TIMECODENAMEDialogue
00:00:00JingleSpoken from GFG Alliance.
00:00:03Chloe TilleyHello and welcome to ‘Spoken’ the podcast for GFG Alliance colleagues across the world. I’m Chloe Tilley, on this episode, we witness an extreme sport at ALVANCE Aluminium, and there’s a GFG Royal visit. Also, we’ll be speaking to Sandip Biswas who has recently joined GFG as Group Chief Investment Officer.
00:00:22Chloe TilleyFirst, of course, we’re joined by Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman, GFG Alliance. Hi Sanjeev, how are you?
00:00:27Sanjeev GuptaHi Chloe, I’m good. Hope you are well too.
00:00:30Chloe TilleyI am, thank you. Now Sanjeev, let’s start with an update on the business’s performance. What’s the latest that you can tell us?
00:00:37Sanjeev GuptaSo, 21/22 until recently have probably been the highest recorded performance across all our businesses with very few exceptions, both in terms of production, profitability, spreads, market prices, productivity in general. So, it’s been a very good time for the business and already for the current year, it has set us up well no matter what the rest of the year brings. So that’s up well for this year’s performance.
00:01:07Sanjeev GuptaHaving said that there are definitely, undeniably are some headwinds, which we’re tackling, especially in steel. Mining is still okay, but steel is definitely having a bit of a break, let’s say. I think one of the other big contributors is the war because there was a lot of stocking because there were concerns about security of supply and supply chains. Which helped the market in that period but obviously as a quid pro quo now markets are correcting because inventory levels are high, so that’s putting downward pressure on the markets.
00:01:43Sanjeev GuptaThis is combined with the usual seasonal slowdown, especially in Europe for the summer holidays. So really, we see some quite significant drops in steel prices and spreads which we are contending with. I mean in my own view, for what it’s worth, is that demand remains strong and once this excess stock flushes out of the system, summer results are behind us, I think market will stabilise and we will see some normality return.
00:02:10Chloe TilleyNow, LIBERTY have entered into a standstill agreement with creditor Greensill Bank. What does that mean?
00:02:16Sanjeev GuptaObviously, the collapse of Greensill was probably the most important event in the history of this group. You know, we had, given that they were our main financier, we had proper existential issues, but we’ve done a lot since then to tackle that problem. And signing a standstill with Greensill bank was by far our largest creditor, it’s obviously a clear sign that we’re getting close to the end.  We’re getting close to consensual restructuring with all our creditors, not just Greensill bank but actually with all other creditors. Also there are intense discussions, this is what occupies most of my time.  And  I can’t wait for the day when we can actually complete the restructuring. So we’re getting closer. There is momentum and hopefully that means we’ll get across the line very soon.
00:03:04Chloe TilleyNow when we last spoke, GFG was going through legal proceedings in the USA and Belgium. What’s been the outcome?
00:03:10Sanjeev GuptaI’m particularly proud of what happened in Georgetown, because the unions and many people in the town supported the fact that it was more important to have a steel operation than other activities. So our application, well the effort by the city to try to deny us to continue with our zoning and to rezone the property into other applications was overturned. And what that has meant is the plant has restarted, people have come back to work.  It’s performing really well.
00:03:42Sanjeev GuptaThe other one in Europe, Liège, I was personally involved in. I went several times to Liège, even to the court.  And again, I’m very happy with the result. We managed to overturn the court’s decision to bankrupt that business, so it’s now live and ticking again. We’re tackling the current market conditions but nonetheless the business is set for future growth.  We have to just keep persevering with our efforts to bring it to a stable position, so two good results for sure.
00:04:10Chloe TilleyNow this time last year we were talking about the formation of the Restructuring and Transformation Committee. I can’t believe it’s been 12 months. A year on, what are your reflections on the Committee’s work so far?
00:04:20Sanjeev GuptaI’m really proud, very proud of all the achievements we’ve had despite the headwinds which we faced.  The refinancing of South Australia and the  refinancing of the US are two important milestones which prove that our business, despite problems, has a very strong footing and has a lot of interest from investors.  Other refinancing and restructuring is obviously on the way, which will continue that journey.
00:04:44Sanjeev GuptaThe capitalisation of the UK despite the fact that UK is a troubled business and continues to be one that requires our attention and turnaround, something again I’m particularly proud of.  And of course given these difficulties the fact that we’ve been responsible, we’ve divested non-core businesses, we’ve closed or pruned non-performing businesses, has again been a great learning for me, for the group and is again something which to reflect on. And last but not least our CN30 efforts, our market leadership which will see us being the first large scale steel producer to reach carbon neutrality has not slowed down despite the last years events. Meanwhile we announced our expansion of magnetite and future projects, our hybrid electric arc furnaces in Ostrava and soon in Galati as well are well progressed. Our hydrogen projects especially in Whyalla are again well progressed. So I think all in all I’m really quite satisfied with how we’ve tackled the crises which we faced and I’m really proud that despite everything you know we can be really really proud of the fact that we have 30,000 direct employees which continue to support the group and the group manages to sustain their jobs and probably a multiple of that in the supply chain. These are important businesses and they have an important future so a satisfactory result despite challenging times.
00:06:07Chloe TilleyOK, well in other news, there was excitement in Romania recently caused by a royal visit. Here’s Raluca Lefter in Galati to tell us more.
00:06:16RALUCA LEFTER[Answers in Romanian]
00:06:37Chloe TilleyAnd now Raluca can translate.
00:06:39RALUCA LEFTERHello.  I am Raluca Lefter from Liberty Galati, and I was proud to be part of the event organisation team for the Royal visit. We were honoured to be participants in this historic event, which almost 200 people attended. Employees and their children, students and teachers from Galati, volunteers and refugees from Ukraine staying our town.
00:07:00Chloe TilleyThanks Raluca. Sanjeev, that is a proud moment for colleagues in Galati to have Margareta of Romania and her husband Prince Radu to visit the plant.
00:07:08Sanjeev GuptaNo indeed it’s definitely an honour, which again shows the importance of Galati and it’s importance to Romania, to the economy, future of the steel industry in Europe and what place Romania will play in that.
00:07:19Chloe TilleyNow finally, for the moment Sanjeev, there have been new appointments in Australia and the US. Tell us more?
00:07:24Sanjeev GuptaBoth these businesses are very important for the group.  The US has done spectacularly well over the last year, year and a half and has a long way to go and a great future ahead. So having Axel Ampolini join as Executive Vice President of our steel and wire operations in the US is something which is very satisfying and I’m looking forward to working with him.  And Tony Swiericzuk joining Whyalla as Managing Director for Whyalla primary steel operations, and coming back to Whyalla I should say, and again a good moment. I spent some time with him, and I’m really excited about what contributions he will make to our business in Whyalla and its current journey towards being a market leader in hydrogen steel.
00:07:55Chloe TilleyWell, thanks for now. Sanjeev, we will be back with you soon to answer a question from a colleague, and we’ll meet our guest next.
00:08:01JingleSpoken.
00:08:05Chloe TilleyJoining us now is Sandip Biswas, Group Chief Investment Officer. Hi Sandip, and welcome. Now you took up your role back in April so what are your impressions of GFG so far?
00:08:15SANDIP BISWASThanks Chloe. It’s wonderful and I think it’s a wonderful place to work, great warm people.  And the best thing is that I feel welcomed everywhere I travel to. I personally think this company has a tremendous pool of talent. The question is, how do we put all this talent at work.
00:08:35Chloe TilleyWould you mind telling us about your job as Group Chief Investment Officer? What exactly does it involve and what are you going to be focusing on this year?
00:08:45SANDIP BISWASWell as you know Sanjeev has a very, very ambitious target for CN30, which means carbon neutrality for a group like ours by 2030.  And obviously as you know, the technology is evolving so we need to make the right technical choice so that we don’t falter, at least on the technical aspect. Needless to say, this will also require lots of investments. And I think personally, steel is the industry to be in.  Also, no decarbonisation would happen without steel.  So, it’s a great future for steel and I think if we find the right way to decarbonise our sector, it would be a great place to work.
00:09:33Chloe TilleyNow you’ve extensive experience of the steel business over many years, joining GFG from Tata Steel. What other trends are you expecting in the industry globally this year?
00:09:45SANDIP BISWASSo I think what I see all companies are putting their heads together to see how fast they can make that transition. Nobody has an ambition as ambitious as ours. We have said that we would be carbon neutral by 2030.  Most other companies would do it by 2050. But needless to say everybody is focused on decarbonisation, so decarbonisation is on the top of the agenda for any board of any steel company. As you can also see many countries are passing legislations which will enforce the companies to make that transition. So there is no escape. If you’re in the steel industry you will have to decarbonise.
00:10:30Chloe TilleyNow I hear recently you spoke at an event in Miami called ‘Steel Success Strategies’. Can you just share with us some of the hot topics there?
00:10:40SANDIP BISWASI think, you know, it was a revelation. A revelation in the sense that I saw all steel companies who spoke in that conference. Everybody is talking about decarbonisation, and everybody thinks that hydrogen would be the big event or the big extent of the future. But what I was not so happy about is that all of us are maybe duplicating our efforts. We are all doing the same thing in our silos without any collaboration and cooperation. I wished that enough companies could come together under obviously the anticompetition laws, which are there, and collaborate so that we could have saved our resources.  We could have done away with the duplication which is happening, and also save money.
00:11:34Chloe TilleyFinally, we always like to get to know our guests a little bit here on the podcast, so away from work in your leisure time, give us a sense? Have you got some passions that occupy your time?
00:11:45SANDIP BISWASIt’s a very good question. I really wished I had the time to pursue my personal interests. I love to spend time on wildlife for the welfare.  I love to visit remote places not the places which I visit now, because of work.  But as luck would have it, my job is keeping me so preoccupied that I hardly have any time to pursue my interest. That’s a pity.
00:12:10Chloe TilleyWell maybe that’s something you could do in the future. Sandip, thank you so much for joining us.
00:12:15Chloe TilleyNow let’s look at one way GFG gets involved in supporting local communities and businesses. At ALVANCE Aluminium in Scotland they’ve helped to develop bike trails in the mountainous Ben Nevis area with local business Nevis Range. These trails have now been used to challenge the riders in the extreme Mountain Bike World Cup. To find out more we are joined by our GFG guest roving reporter, Jonathan Hart, from JAHAMA Highland Estates.
00:12:42Jonathan HartHi Chloe. It is an incredibly steep mountain bike trail. It’s made of granite carved out through the hillside here, about a 650 m descent, which amazingly they complete in about 4 or 5 minutes. Most of the bikes are made of aluminium.  And it’s quite astonishing the pounding the bikes get. Absolutely, they take huge hits, leaping probably anything up to about 5, 6 m off the ground, landing 20 feet, 30 feet away.
00:13:18Jonathan HartGFG work very closely with the Nevis Range, the ski area and we worked with them with a view to promoting access and good health and well-being from within the region. Today we’ve probably got about 10,000 people spectating the event and a big field of riders.
00:13:38ANNOUNCERAnd now ladies and gentlemen our winner for today, [unclear]. [Cheering].
00:13:54Chloe TilleyThank you very much to Jonathan Hart from JAHAMA Highland Estates. Now Sanjeev, with your family association with bikes, have you ever fancied trying your hand at a bit of the Mountain Bike World Cup?
00:14:06Sanjeev GuptaI was almost born on a bike so I’m certainly no stranger to riding a bike.  But I think that 650 m or whatever was mentioned, sounds a bit beyond my capabilities so I’ll leave it to the real enthusiasts.
00:14:20Chloe TilleyI couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Sanjeev.  Well next it’s a question from you for Sanjeev.
00:14:25JingleSpoken.
00:14:29Chloe TilleyRight, let’s get a question from you now.
00:14:31Andrew TAYLORHi Sanjeev, this is Andrew Taylor, Manager, Health, Safety, Environment and Community from the LIBERTY Bell Bay site in Tasmania, Australia. I’m interested to know the personal and professional driving forces for both you and Nicola in the foundation’s development. Did you and Nicola have mentors that inspired you when you were very young?
00:14:52Sanjeev GuptaI can answer that question in two ways.  One is the concept of an early start in industry and in vocation, is something which I was born and brought up with.  So I was involved in my father and my grandfather’s businesses from a very, very, early age and I have very vivid memories of that.  And I think that has always stayed with me in terms of being important in terms of how one is trained or brought up to basically have a, passion, b, competence in a particular industry, early interest I think is very important.
00:15:26Sanjeev GuptaAnd then His Royal Highness Prince Charles, he, as some of you may know, he started or inspired the beginning of the Industrial Cadets Programme in the UK, which I joined.  He invited me to be his ambassador on that, which I’d started. We’ve supported that programme and continued to add children in our communities to that programme every year.
00:15:48Sanjeev GuptaAnd then also coincided with us launching the foundation. And again, the core objective of the foundation was and remains education, an industrial education for young children.  So I would certainly thank His Royal Highness for inspiration and for inviting me to start this journey.  That torch which he handed to me now is thousands of thousands of children across the world and it will be tens and tens of thousands as we move forward because the foundation certainly has very strong ambitions and goals.
00:16:19Chloe TilleyThank you, Sanjeev. And thanks Andrew for your question. If you would like to ask Sanjeev a question do please send us an email with your question to spoken@gfgalliance.com, that’s spoken@gfgalliance.com.
00:16:33Chloe TilleyFinally, Sanjeev, the ‘Chairman’s Global Excellence Awards’ are back. Last time there were over 200 nominations from across the world recognising colleague’s work and contributions. How can people get involved this year?
00:16:45Sanjeev GuptaYes, I am looking forward to it. Last year was very satisfying. It was very interesting and I’m sure it will get even more attention and participation this time, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I think just watch out for the communications from your internal comms team, and you will soon be invited.  It’s something which I always feel and always say is very important, is that we must stop to celebrate and acknowledge what we are doing, all the efforts we make in life and these awards are a bit of an opportunity to do so.
00:17:13Chloe TilleyAbsolutely, Sanjeev. And thank you so much as ever for joining us and look forward to chatting to you again next month.
00:17:19Sanjeev GuptaThank you, Chloe. Talk soon.
00:17:21Chloe TilleyDo join us then, when we’ll keep you updated with the latest GFG news and hear from colleagues across the business. Until then, from me Chloe Tilley and Sanjeev Gupta, it’s thanks for listening and goodbye.
00:17:32JINGLESpoken, back soon.
00:17:36End of tape.

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Sanjeev has the latest business update in this edition of the podcast
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