UK may Co-in­vest with Pvt Part­ner in Tata Steel’s Port Tal­bot Plant

Ear­lier, the UK govt had re­sisted calls from unions and op­po­si­tion politi­cians to na­tion­alise the plant

The Economic Times - - Companies - Our Bu­reau

Mum­bai: The UK gov­ern­ment would con­sider co-in­vest­ing with a pri­vate sec­tor part­ner to help save Port Tal­bot Steel­works, busi­ness sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid said. Javid told the House of Com­mons in UK Par­lia­ment on Mon­day that the gov­ern­ment was work­ing very hard to find a buyer for the plant in South Wales, which is be­ing sold by Tata Steel.

He de­clined to clar­ify ex­actly what “co-in­vest­ing” meant, but said it showed the gov­ern­ment would look at all op­tions. This is a demon­stra­tion of how far the gov­ern­ment can go to sup­port Port Tal­bot Steel­works and the rest of the busi­ness, he said.

Ear­lier, the UK gov­ern­ment had re­sisted calls from unions and op­po­si­tion politi­cians to na­tion­alise the plant, Bri­tain's big­gest steel­works.

Late last month, Tata Steel de­cided to en­tirely exit its poorly per­form­ing UK steel busi­ness, giv­ing up on ef­forts to turn around the busi­ness it bought as part of the takeover of Corus at the height of the com­mod­ity boom in 2007. The com­pany has suf­fered al­most a decade of losses amid poor de­mand and cheap Chi­nese im­ports.

“There has been a lot of peo­ple who have ex­pressed in­ter­est, and we are aware of some of the in­ter­est that you re­fer to in the me­dia. I don’t want to give a num­ber, but it is in tens, many tens ac­tu­ally," said Koushik Chatterjee, Tata Steel's di­rec­tor for fi­nance, at a press brief­ing in the UK.

Tata an­nounced the sale of its Scun­thorpe plant to Grey­bull Cap­i­tal for 1 pound on Mon­day in ex­change of as­sets and 'rel­e­vant' li­a­bil­i­ties, start­ing the end of its un­suc­cess­ful foray into the UK.

Javid claimed that sev­eral weeks ago Tata Steel told him that they were se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing an im­me­di­ate clo­sure of Port Tal­bot.

The fu­ture of the larger Port Tal­bot is still in doubt, although Lib­erty House, founded by In­dian-ori­gin San­jeev Gupta, has ex­pressed in­ter­est. Javid said the sale process for Port Tal­bot as­sets had just started, and all op­tions were still be­ing ex­plored.

Javid added that he had been in con­tact

with po­ten­tial buy­ers, mak­ing clear that the gov­ern­ment stands ready to help. A gov­ern­ment source, who spoke to Reuters on the con­di­tion of anonymity due to the sen­si­tiv­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, said there was only a re­mote pos­si­bil­ity that the state would end up tak­ing an equity share in the Port Tal­bot op­er­a­tion.

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