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White Oak: why the ‘white knight’ is so closely associated with the Gupta iron band


After the False Head Office confirmed that it was investigating Sanjeev Gupta’s Ganje Gang on Friday, the rescuer of the metal gang appeared to be leaving.

White Oak Global Advisers, who co-sponsored a financial agreement in Gupta in Australia and Britain, said Friday “it cannot continue to negotiate with any company investigated by the Serious Fraud Office on money laundering”.

A few hours later, it wrote a seemingly contradictory statement, referring to Australian GFG businesses: “White Oak continues to try to restructure Liberty Primary Metals in Australia due to wasteful spending and legitimate governments.”

White Oak was ready to volunteer for an early GFG loan despite reports that he believed in fraud. The GFG has denied the allegations and promised to “fully cooperate” with SFO research.

It now appears that – even to begin with – White Oak may be ready to fund the company in question by the SFO.

The reason may be that the private lender living in San Francisco is not a new “white knight” but a company trying to tackle the presence of a steel band.

White Oak has already taken the opportunity to be known by the GFG, according to documents that the Financial Times and people are well aware of.

Last year, when Gupta Greensill Capital CEO was pressured to reduce its presence in the stock market, White Oak stepped in to help, according to four people familiar with the matter.

In the spring of 2020, it began to buy a metal coin loan from a financial group, which is expanding its operations over the summer, two people said. It was created through a difficult trade deal that gave Greensill a chance to recover, people say.

White Oak has also donated money directly to the Gupta Liberty group.

“[It is] is known for events outside the wall and living in a difficult time for the capital, “according to one person who worked with White Oak. Another described it as a” difficult bag “, saying the lender would have wanted” the best “.

White Oak said it “did not recognize or accept this form” of the company. “For more than a decade we have been partners with thousands of SMEs around the world who have helped grow their businesses through funding,” he said.

The company has played a key role in the rapid growth of financial markets in which financial institutions, less regulated than banks, create business loans that banks see as risky – often at a price point.

It has secured funding from the pensions of various groups such as teachers in Lancashire, nurses in New York and Boeing staff, as they seek to raise funds for risky loans.

And it has established itself as a major UK taxpayer loan service for small businesses under the Covid-19 emergency scheme, providing £ 250m for about 800 businesses, according to their CEO Andre Hakkak. The loans were made by his British arm, a 35-year-old lender living near Chester known as LDF Group White Oak before buying in 2018.

“Some people call us a white army,” Hakkak told a video interview with ABL Advisor last month. “When you talk to some of our creditors, they are happy for us to come quickly and make history and test them to survive and live in difficult places.”

However, he said, such a business was dangerous: “What risk do you want the manager to take to get a 10% return? That is a valid question. ”

White Oak was willing to agree to fund Gupta’s top companies – about $ 430m (£ 236m) to resume its Australian steel operations and a £ 200m cable for its British plants – at a time when others were not.

White Oak’s claims to have left the negotiations have raised the suspicions of thousands of workers on the GFG’s steel plant. The company’s plant in Yorkshire, which has a population of about 1,800 people, has been hit hard by the collapse of Greensill and the declining demand for airport customers due to the epidemic.

The two major plants in Rotherham and Stocksbridge count some of the European manufacturing companies among their customers, including Rolls-Royce, JCB and Safran. Plant managers have been able to continue working continuously despite the high cost of operating due to the dedication of other clients on their equipment.

White Oak’s relationship with GFG will return in February 2019, when the US team offered a $ 200m lease to Liberty’s Australian business. Greensill put A $ 545m A side.

It went well in White Oak. GFG promoted a very good harvest in the autumn of that year to repay the loan, repay the loan with a yield of 10 percent, a person close to the case said.

White Oak later re-entered to buy a Liberty Commodities loan from Greensill, worth $ 200m, according to one of the acquaintances.

Greensill and GFG Group declined to comment.

David Cameron, the former Prime Minister and former Greensill adviser, told a select committee Thursday that he “asked a lot of questions” about whether Greensill had met the GFG. “The reassurance I get all the time was that there were ideas against this,” he said.

As of early March this year, White Oak was close to $ 300m for a visit to Gupta’s Liberty Commodities, which is due to mature on May 20, a document that the FT show shows.

White Oak has also approved a loan from Westford Trade Services, an investment firm that has done large business with Gupta’s Liberty Commodities.

It provided Westford in May 2020 with a “non-exchange brokerage firm”, in particular short-term financing, according to documents submitted to the Companies House indicating that White Oak oversees Westford.

Westford Limited, a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of the same group, is listed as users of Greensill funds sold through Credit Suisse funds that the bank suspended in March, according to a bank report. Westford did not respond to a request for comment.

White Oak intervened in the steel business which was in crisis before borrowing from the Gupta empire. He paid £ 90m to British Steel in July 2018, less than a year before falling under former owner Greybull Capital.

Hakkak at the time said that “the agreement” represents “the commitment and interest of White Oak in the UK and the EU market”.

As British Steel was about to repay its debt, White Oak negotiated with Liberty over what to do with the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

Although this did not happen, the lender was able to repay the loan when the company was liquidated, even though it was under other loan numbers on the repayment line.

“They were very business-minded and uninterested,” said one professional at the time. “If only they had paid for their meat in Gupta.”

Additional reports by Oliver Barnes


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