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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Indian steel tycoon is not new owner of Lake District mountain

Claims that an Indian billionaire has bid to buy an iconic Cumbrian mountain have been scotched.

Debbie Cosgrove photo
Debbie Cosgrove

The latest twist in the Blencathra tale came at the weekend when media reports suggested that the third richest man in Britain, Lakshmi Mittal, had bid for the Lake District fell.

But the community group bidding for Blencathra said it was business as usual, and they believe negotiations are still continuing despite the owner saying it had been sold.

It was claimed that Mr Mittal, who is CEO of the world’s largest steel-making company ArcelorMittall, bid more than the £1.75 million to buy the mountain. But ArcelorMittal has now denied any link to such an offer.

On their Twitter page they released the following statement: “The idea that Mr Mittal is interested in buying a mountain is nonsense. We have no idea where this story came from:it isn’t true.”

Chairman of Friends of Blencathra, Debbie Cosgrove, dismissed the media reports as “pure speculation”.

“As far as we are concerned the door for us has not been shut. There has certainly been no sale. If there had we would have been notified,” said Ms Cosgrove.

A statement on the group’s website said: “We are aware of the article published in The Mail on Sunday, speculating on the possible purchaser of Blencathra. The published story contains a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

“We are the only bidder to have gone public with our intention. We do not know if the person named has put in a bid or not. It is therefore very difficult to comment as this is just the latest in a very long list of rumoured bidders.

“As we have stated previously, no sale has been completed to anyone and we are still very much in negotiations with agents acting for the Lonsdale Estate Trustees.”

The mountain, also known as Saddleback, had been put on the market earlier this year by the Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther.

Funds from the sale of the 2,676-acre plot will go towards paying off the reported £9 million tax Lowther owes from the inheritance of his father, who died eight years ago.

Early last month Eden Council executive meeting in Penrith voted to officially recommend the mountain for community asset status.

It is the first time the Localism Act – through which the Community Asset process is carried out – has been used to register a mountain.

Harrison & Hetherington, Land & Property, based in Carlisle, who have been negotiating the sale on behalf of Lord Lonsdale said they were unable to comment on the latest development, but reiterated the last comment they issued to the media.

John Robson managing director, said: “We are moving towards exchange of contracts, however until the time contracts have been exchanged, negotiations with all parties are ongoing. In addition no further announcements are likely to be made by us until contracts have been exchanged.”

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