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Tata considers bids for UK steel plants

Do Not UseDo Not Use 25/05/2016
Port Talbot © Getty Images Port Talbot

Tata Steel is still in the process of considering bids for its UK operations, the company has said.

Chinese steel workers © Getty Images Chinese steel workers

A shortlist of bidders had been expected following a Tata board meeting on Wednesday.

But finance director Koushik Chatterjee said bids were still under "active consideration".

Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones had travelled to Mumbai to meet Tata executives.

Mr Chatterjee said: "We are in the process of evaluating the offers and bids that have come up.

"We are in the confidential phase of this process so you have to give time to the company to evaluate the bids."

The deadline for potential buyers to make formal bids closed on Monday.

Tata has declined to say how many actual bids it has received.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Tata Steel reported that losses narrowed in its fourth quarter.

Tata Steel posted a net loss of 27.73bn rupees (£280m) for the three months to March, compared with a loss of 58.37bn rupees a year earlier.


Earlier in May, it said there had been seven expressions of interest in its UK business, which also has sites at Newport and Rotherham.

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Among those reported to have put their hats in the ring are Greybull Capital, which has already bought Tata's long products business.

The management buyout vehicle, Excalibur Steel, which is led by Stuart Wilkie, the head of Tata's UK strip steel unit, based in south Wales is another.

Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty House, which has acquired two of Tata's smaller mills has also expressed an interest.

While they have submitted independent bids, it is thought there is potential for them to work together.

Others said to be in the running include JSW Steel, which is India's second biggest steel producer, China's Hebei Iron and Steel Group, and Endless, one of the UK's largest turnaround specialists based in Leeds.

There have also been reports that Nucor, the biggest steelmaker in the US and US billionaire investor Wilbur Ross were interested.

The general secretary of the TUC, Frances O'Grady, urged Tata to give careful consideration to the bidders.

"We don't want a rushed decision, we want a good decision, and the TUC and the steel unions have been pressing Tata that we want them to behave like a responsible and ethical seller," she said.

"This has to be about ensuring that we protect jobs and communities [and] the whole industry - it can't be about asset stripping or cherry picking."

Earlier she had called on the UK to follow the US and impose stiff import tariffs to stop China dumping steel on world markets.

Steel protest

Mr Jones said at First Minister's Questions on Tuesday that although the Excalibur bid had considerable technical expertise, it was yet to raise funding.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on a flight to Japan for a G7 meeting, said: "We continue to work towards trying to get a good outcome for Tata in south Wales, the sales process is under way, there has been an encouraging number of serious offers coming through."

However, he added: "There are no guarantees, we can't guarantee this is going to work, but we are doing everything we can."

Meanwhile, hundreds of steelworkers protested in London to highlight the crisis facing their industry in the UK.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was at the protest, said: "This industry is strong. The communities are strong. The workers are incredibly skilled. They have built everything there is in this country: every road, every railway, every new building is because of steelworkers and the steel industry. They must not be sent down the road. The industry must not be destroyed, and we will make sure it is not destroyed."

"Market economy access for China is the last thing British steelworkers need. The government must reverse course," she said.

Angela Eagle, shadow business secretary, also called on ministers to stop "kowtowing to China".

Meanwhile, steel makers around the world are urging G7 leaders meeting in Japan to take joint action against Chinese steel dumping.

Steel trade groups from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and UK Steel have signed a statement warning world leaders that steelmakers will remain under pressure until action is taken.

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said: "Chinese government policies have contributed to significant global excess capacity in steel, unfair trade and distortions in steel trade flows around the world."

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