By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, May 4 (Reuters) - The founder and chairman of Liberty House, the industrials and commodities group that has been snapping up troubled steel plants around the world, plans to list some of its multibillion-dollar businesses, probably in 2018.
Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty House, which operates together with energy and commodities business SIMEC under the $9.4 billion Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance, hit the headlines last year when it offered to rescue steel plants owned by Tata Steel UK (TISC.NS> that were on the verge of shutdown.
Liberty has since bought an aluminium smelter in Scotland and a steel plant in the United States. It is also bidding for Australian steel producer Arrium, U.S. iron ore processor Mesabi Metallics and is considering a stake in a troubled steel plant based in Piombino, Italy, owned by Algeria's Cevital Group.
"(Listing) will happen sooner or later for sure ... 2018 is a soft target," Sanjeev Gupta told Reuters on the sidelines of the CRU World Aluminium Conference in London.
"We want at least one if not more of the businesses to be in the public space, like energy for example, maybe steel eventually, but I'm not sure the UK is the right place for it, maybe the U.S."
Gupta has previously told Reuters he was considering a partial public listing in London but that a firm decision had yet to be made.
He explained on Thursday that the energy business listing would probably be in London, but not steel.
Liberty and SIMEC's assets span steelmaking, aluminium smelting, engineering, renewable and non-renewable energy facilities, commodities trading, shipping, property and even finance.
Gupta, who was bullish on steel even during the crisis in 2015, said there are still distressed plants that offer value, even though steel equities <.TRXFLDGLPUSTEL > globally have risen by 80 percent since early January 2015.
His so-called green metal model is based on using renewable energy to fire up furnaces and smelters that recycle locally sourced scrap and feed the finished metal to manufacturing businesses, also owned by Gupta, that make high value-added goods.
Since moving into steelmaking, aluminium smelting, engineering and banking, Liberty's operating profit has improved significantly, jumping 74 percent in 2016 to $99 million while turnover soared by 82 percent to $6.8 billion.
Editing by Greg Mahlich and David Goodman