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Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- In early 2019, industrialist Sanjeev Gupta was trying to secure his biggest prize yet: a deal to buy a string of steel plants across Europe from ArcelorMittal SA. There was just one problem: he was struggling to find the cash.The European Commission insisted he invest more of his own money -- and take on less debt -- before it would approve the purchase. For Gupta, as on so many previous occasions, the answer came as a creative solution from financier Lex Greensill.Greensill’s company extended hundreds of millions of dollars of credit to Gupta’s businesses based on the inventories at his Australian assets. Problem solved, a few months later the ArcelorMittal deal was done.The tale of Gupta’s acquisition of the ArcelorMittal assets illustrates how the British-Indian entrepreneur built his empire by shuffling cash from one part of his business to another. The reporting, based on corporate filings spanning Australia, Singapore and the U.K., and interviews with two people with direct knowledge of the deal, suggests his ascent relied on clinching one deal after the next, raising new financing at every stage, and thus piling debt on top of debt -- much of it from Greensill.With his biggest lender now in insolvency, Gupta faces a reckoning. Without access to more Greensill financing, and with his ability to keep doing deals severely hampered, what will become of the so-called “savior of steel”?Range of ToolsGFG’s funding agreements reflected its strategy to improve operational and commercial performance at the assets, which represented a “a series of countercyclical investments,” a spokesman said in response to questions.“We have used a range of financing tools, including bonds, bank loans and asset based financing to fund the business. We have significantly improved the performance of our major businesses and are benefiting from strong steel, iron ore and aluminium markets.”Spokespeople for Greensill and ArcelorMittal declined to commen...

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