Industrialist Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty House, part of the GFG Alliance, is to acquire Europe's largest aluminium smelter in Dunkerque, France, kick-starting a major expansion by the company into mainland Europe.
The group did not disclose an offer price but said the move was part of a 2 billion euro ($2.4 billion) investment plan it had launched in France thanks in part to the pro-business environment created by French President Emmanuel Macron's government.
The Liberty House proposal includes plans to modernise the site, according to Rio. It said the estimated total aluminium content in European-made cars will rise to 4.3m tonnes from 3.3m tonnes a year by 2024.
In addition to serving existing customers with aluminium slab and ingots, Liberty wants to capitalise on the growing market for aluminium components among Europe's vehicle manufacturers by working with stakeholders to develop downstream manufacturing activities linked to the smelter at Dunkerque.
"Aluminium Dunkerque has a high-quality aluminum operation benefitting from a top-class workforce and management".
Rio Tinto chief executive Alf Barrios said the offer is the best option for the future development of the site while also delivering value for Rio Tinto.
The firm intends to develop the plant into an worldwide centre of aluminum and downstream aluminum products expertise, demonstrating its GREENALUMINIUM strategy.
Mr Gupta is rumoured to be a potential buyer of Boyne Smelter Limited, Queensland Alumina Limited, Rio Tinto Yarwun and Gladstone Power Station.
Rio Tinto in December 2016 had already sold its Lochaber Smelter and assets in Scotland to Liberty House.