Tata Steel begins the formal process of finding a buyer for its loss-making UK steel business on today (11 April), following its decision to exit the country. The company will invite potential buyers to submit takeover offers.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman at Liberty House, a UK-based steel products company, is the only one that has so far publicly expressed interest in acquiring Tata Steel's UK assets, including the steel plant at Port Talbot in South Wales, the biggest plant in the country.
Speaking of his desire to save jobs, Gupta had disclosed his plans to remodel the Port Talbot unit to produce steel using electric arc furnaces, in order to benefit from recycling opportunities. He was, however, concerned over the high energy costs in the UK. Last week he told Sky News that these costs have to be "rectified" by the UK government.
Warning that there could not be a quick-fix solution, Gupta said: "There are issues to resolve which will become more apparent as prospective buyers do their due diligence. As they do we hope there will be an equitable solution for the industry."
As formal process begins, the sale of Tata's Scunthorpe plant to Greybull Capital is expected to close soon. This follows negotiations between the Indian conglomerate and the investment firm about nine months ago. While neither Tata nor Greybull have confirmed this, an announcement on the completion of the sale is expected later in the day.
The potential completion of the sale is expected to save thousands of jobs, both at the plant and at supplier firms. However, Greybull is known to have already said that it would ask the Scunthorpe staff to take pay cuts and sacrifice a part of the pension contributions on completion of the deal.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Sajid Javid will explain his efforts to find a buyer for Tata Steel's other UK plants to MPs later. On 5 April, he flew to Mumbai to discuss the sale of Tata Steel's UK operations with the group's chairman, Cyrus Mistry. He had also met union leaders who had urged the government not to let a future owner pick and choose assets and close part of the Port Talbot plant which employs around 4,000 people.