Tata Steel is in talks to sell its Long Products Europe business to investment firm Greybull Capital, according to a statement by both companies. The deal could save the jobs of thousands of steel workers across various plants that Tata had earlier planned to close.
Some of Tata's assets that could be salvaged by this deal include its Scunthorpe plant, mills in Teesside, Dalzell and Clydebrid, northern France, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York and other distribution facilities.
Karl Koehler, chief executive at Tata Steel's European operations, said: "This is an extremely critical time for the whole industry, and we have been working hard to explore all options that could provide a future for the Long Products Europe business."
Earlier this month, Tata Steel was rumored to be in talks with Gary Klesch and a "mystery" US investor besides Greybull. However, it seems that Greybull has emerged as the favorite in the sale process.
The UK based family office that makes long-term investments in private companies said "Greybull Capital confirms that it has signed a letter of intent with Tata Steel...Whilst this is an important milestone, much work remains to be done to reach a successful outcome"
The deal – which is rumored to be valued less than £500m (€677.9m, $741.6m) – was not likely to include any debt takeover, according to Reuters.
Of the 30,000 people that Tata Steel employs across Europe, about 4,700 people are employed at its Long Products Europe business which makes steel products such as universal beams, universal columns, parallel flange channels and angles for use in construction. The European bosses at Tata had previously warned that a buyer for this business had to found by the end of March.
Bimlendra Jha, executive chairman of this business division said that the announcement was a joint effort by the management, employees and trade unions in an effort to create a turnaround plan to revive the future of this business.
The UK's crisis hit Steel industry has seen job cuts of about 3,000 employees in the past few months. This was due to reasons such as the closure of SSI's Redcar plant, the administration of Caparo Industries and a restructuring by Tata.