Thousands of Whyalla steel jobs threatened | Daily Liberal

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Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia could receive government aid as legal action against its billionaire owner threatens thousands of jobs. Citibank, acting on behalf of Credit Suisse, is suing Sanjeev Gupta in an attempt to liquidate two of its operations – OneSteel Manufacturing and Tahmoor Coal. If successful, the move could trigger the appointment of liquidators at the Whyalla steel plant and its associated mines, which employ more than 1,800 South Australians, and at the Tahmoor coal mine in New South Wales. This is the latest setback for Mr Gupta’s global business following the collapse of major lender Greensill last month. Credit Suisse is trying to recover some of the money owed to it by dissolving Mr. Gupta’s Australian assets. But his UK-based company GFG Alliance has vowed to vigorously defend the lawsuit, saying it does not fund with Credit Suisse. The Advertiser newspaper reports that Prime Minister Steven Marshall and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have discussed providing bridging funding to keep steel mills afloat if creditors take control of GFG. Mr. Marshall said there had been no request for financial assistance from the company. “It was not requested and I do not think it will be necessary,” he said on Wednesday. “We’re not ruling out anything, but I’m taking stock – I think the Australian operations are the least of the problems for the GFG group.” The prime minister said he did not want to see part of the business sold and expressed hope that Gupta could get refinancing. “Obviously we’re going to do whatever we can to protect these jobs here in Australia and more specifically from my perspective, these jobs at Whyalla,” he said. “The workforce there has done a tremendous job over the past five years in transforming the productivity of this plant.” Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said saving the steel plant was in the national interest. “The ripple effects if Whyalla Steelworks could not continue to produce would be devastating to our national economy,” he said. Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young called on the Prime Minister to buy shares or buy back the steel mills and OneSteel if necessary. The steelworks were bailed out by the Big Four banks in 2016 when former operator Arrium entered the voluntary administration, but has since changed things. “Australian businesses are performing well and generating positive cash flow, supported by the operational improvements we have made and strong steel and iron ore markets,” said GFG Alliance. South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas said workers at Whyalla Steelworks shouldn’t be too worried. “People shouldn’t jump to fear-mongering conclusions at this point,” he said. “(GFG Alliance) are confident that they can handle a renegotiation of their funding agreements. That’s what they said publicly and that’s what they told us privately.” The case is set for a hearing on instructions on May 6. Australian Associated Press


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