On the sidelines of the England cricket workforce’s 2017-18 tour of Australia, MPs from the 2 nations took to a pitch exterior Sydney for the ultimate match within the parallel “Parliamentary Ashes” sequence.
Amongst spectators together with the house nation’s then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor John Howard was British metals magnate Sanjeev Gupta, the sponsor of the UK politicians’ tour who 4 months earlier had purchased the Whyalla steelworks in Southern Australia.
Additionally watching within the vivid summer time solar was a red-faced Englishman, Jay Hambro — the scion of a London banking dynasty whose deep institution connections helped drive Gupta’s relentless dealmaking, opening doorways each to politicians and lenders.
Now a rift is threatening their relationship as Gupta battles to maintain his GFG Alliance afloat following the collapse this 12 months of his foremost lender Greensill Capital. After a disagreement over an asset sale, the 45-year-old Hambro is ready to depart GFG, which is beneath investigation by the UK’s Critical Fraud Workplace.
Tall, broad-shouldered and bodily imposing, Hambro helped Gupta entry international banks for the primary time, bringing credibility to the Indian-born businessman’s efforts to change into a world drive within the metals business.
“I can perceive why Sanjeev wished to have him by his aspect — he was extraordinarily influential — nothing occurred inside GFG with out his sign-off,” mentioned one banker who labored with GFG. “I don’t suppose he would have gotten the place he was with out Jay beside him.”
For one in all Gupta’s largest offers, the 2018 buy of the Dunkirk aluminium smelter from Rio Tinto, Hambro helped safe a $350m mortgage from a consortium of banks together with Morgan Stanley and China’s ICBC — the primary time GFG had obtained conventional financial institution lending.
He delivered a “wow PowerPoint pitch” in keeping with one banker on the deal, who described Hambro as “the final word salesman”, having “promised a whole lot of issues to a whole lot of banks”.
With a household heritage stretching again to Baron Carl Joachim Hambro, a Dane who in 1839 based Hambros Financial institution in London, he grew up steeped within the tight-knit worlds of finance and mining.
Aged 17, the Harrow-educated Hambro was packed off by his father Peter for a stint working at mines in Australia along with his brother Evy. After a enterprise administration diploma at Newcastle College, he took jobs in pure useful resource banking at Rothschilds and HSBC earlier than becoming a member of Petropavlovsk, the Russia-focused gold miner co-founded by his father.
He was later tasked with operating Petropavlovsk’s iron ore deposits in Russia’s Far East, which have been spun out into Hong Kong-listed IRC in 2010. As a younger government chair, Hambro needed to take care of a a lot older board together with Simon Murray, then chair of Glencore.
“He actually does his homework and has an unimaginable skill to hear and study — he’s a really spectacular particular person,” mentioned Johnny Martin Smith, an unbiased non-executive director of IRC. “If Simon mentioned one thing that wasn’t honest he would inform him, chair of Glencore or not.”
Petropavlovsk acted as guarantor for a $340m mortgage to the corporate from China’s largest financial institution, ICBC, for the development of an iron ore mine. In emails, IRC was labelled as a member of the “Petropavlovsk Alliance”.
“It was a household affair,” one banker mentioned.
Nevertheless, individuals who know Hambro say he wished to emerge from his father’s shadow. In 2016 Gupta supplied him a route out of the household enterprise.
Hambro grew to become group chief funding officer for GFG, with duty for that 12 months’s acquisition of Wyelands Financial institution in addition to the corporate’s vitality portfolio.
At its peak, Wyelands gathered greater than £700m in deposits from British savers, which was primarily lent to firms with hyperlinks to GFG. Wyelands is beneath investigation by the Nationwide Crime Company and Critical Fraud Workplace and Hambro has left the board, in keeping with filings.
Hambro’s concept was to construct renewable vitality provide for the corporate’s metal crops and different industrial belongings, decreasing energy prices but in addition serving to to decarbonise operations. Longer-term, he hoped to create a portfolio of mining belongings for the corporate.
He quickly grew to become Gupta’s right-hand man, travelling the world to do offers from Australia to Europe and the US. An arch networker, Hambro “likes doing offers”, in keeping with one one who is aware of him.
In Scotland, Hambro helped Gupta garner political help, together with from first minister Nicola Sturgeon. The federal government register of ministerial engagements reveals rural economic system minister Fergus Ewing dined with Hambro 4 instances in six months from September 2017 to Might 2018.
GFG’s buy of Britain’s final aluminium smelter in Lochaber, together with two close by hydropower crops acquired from Rio Tinto in 2016, preserved jobs and rescued necessary industrial belongings. The acquisition was underpinned by a authorities assure value £575m.
In 2018 Macquarie determined to cease doing any enterprise with the corporate, in keeping with folks aware of the matter, due to issues over the way it was funded. Macquarie declined to remark.
Hambro managed to herald JPMorgan as company dealer for Simec Atlantis, a tidal energy firm whose acquisition by Gupta he had dealt with. The Wall Road financial institution additionally helped organize a bond sale for Gupta’s Australian subsidiary Infrabuild, which raised $325m at a 12 per cent yield. JPMorgan declined to remark.
Different vitality transactions dealt with by Hambro embody the 2017 takeover of Scottish hydropower developer Inexperienced Highland Renewables.
Nevertheless, the renewables initiatives have struggled. Shares in Simec Atlantis, the place Hambro sits on the board, have fallen 86 per cent previously 5 years.
Now, as GFG struggles for survival, the reputations of each Gupta and his former right-hand man are on the road.
One former authorities minister mentioned Hambro appeared “terribly happy with himself and a consummate name-dropper”, including that, in gentle of the potential fallout from Gupta’s controversies, “I believe that he’s not as intelligent as he thinks he’s”.
Reporting by Henry Sanderson, Robert Smith, Michael Pooler, Neil Hume and Sylvia Pfeifer