British Business Minister to meet Tata chief in Mumbai

Tata Steel on Friday called a board meeting to consider future options for its UK operations.

The Dollar Business Bureau

Tata Steel on Friday called for a board meeting to consider future options for its UK operations, as the UK business Minister Sajid Javid flew to Mumbai to hold talks with Tata executives and find a long-term solution for the company’s Port Talbot site.

The decision comes after several bidders pulled out due to political and commercial uncertainty, triggered by Brexit. Liberty Group, owned by Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta, stands as the sole bidder.

According to the reports, Tata Steel may put the sale of its Port Talbot unit on hold, barring the company’s specialty steels and pipeline tubes businesses, a segment which employs about 2,000 people in the UK.

Business Minister Javid has been in regular discussions with Tata Steel’s senior management on how to secure jobs and stimulate growth of the UK's steel sector, which has been severely hit by cheap Chinese imports and high maintenance costs. "This is part of our ongoing dialogue with Tata to maintain momentum and achieve a long-term solution for the UK steelmaking," said UK's department for business, innovation and skills.

To attract buyers, British Prime Minister David Cameron had offered to buy 25% stake in Tata’s steel business, besides committing millions of pounds-worth financial support. But following Brexit referendum, it has been projected that the change in leadership could impact the financial support arrangements, earlier extended by the Cameron-led government.

In March, Tata Steel had announced it would sell the UK assets, but no deal has been inked yet now. Seven parties – Endless and US investor Wilbur Ross, JSW Steel, Liberty Group, investment fund Greybull, China's steel maker Hebei Iron and Steel and Excalibur – had expressed interest in Tata Steel's Port Talbot unit.

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The Dollar Business Bureau - Jul 08, 2016 12:00 IST