Jahama Highland Estate in Scotland was Part of Lochaber Deal
The Telegraph recently reported that Mr Sanjeev Gupta secured ownership of a 114,000 acre Jahama Highland Estates in Scotland, formerly known as the Alcan Estate, via an offshore company Isle of Man after he purchased it in a package deal with an aluminium smelter in Lochaber, the area surrounding Fort William. GFG acquired the estate in 2016 as part of a taxpayer-guaranteed deal to buy a smelter and associated hydropower plant for GBP 330 million from Rio Tinto. The Scottish government provided a 25-year guarantee, worth an estimated GBP 360 million and underpinned by the taxpayers from across the UK, with the promise that up to 2,000 jobs would be created. An alloy wheel factory was planned and then shelved amid claims of a downturn in the car industry.
Scottish National Party Leader & First Minister of Scotland Ms Nicola Sturgeon’s administration had said that it provided backing for the deal on condition that the assets would not be broken up. Scottish National Party forged ahead with the deal despite warnings by advisers to the businesses pension scheme trustees that it left UK taxpayers exposed to hundreds of millions of pounds of losses. Scotland’s Rural Economy Minister Mr Fergus Ewing last month repeated the claim that the taxpayer guarantee that underpinned Mr Gupta’s purchase of the Lochaber smelter prevented separation of the assets. He said “Our support, which we offered to any bidder with plans for long-term industrial operations of the Lochaber businesses, prevented break-up of the assets.”
Scottish National Party came under pressure in February after a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament said that GFG had not delivered on its commitment to hand part of the estate to locals. Scottish Conservative Party’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mr Murdo Fraser said “These revelations add to a growing sense of unease around the terms of the deal struck by the SNP administration. We need to know whether this generous taxpayer-funded support was conditional on assets being preserved, as the SNP minister has suggested. If there has been any suspected breach of the terms, he must take whatever steps are necessary to protect public funds.”
Jahama Highland Estates boasts of the finest deer stalking ground in Great Britain alongside hunting for grouse and ducks. Claiming to have some of the toughest terrain in the UK, including the north face of Ben Nevis, the estate was used for Special Forces training during the Second World War.