UK: Efforts to Find Buyers for Tata Steel Assets in Line with EU Rules
London: Britain’s efforts to help find a buyer for Tata Steel’s UK assets will comply with European Union state aid regulations, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday, insisting any deal would not be a bailout or nationalisation. Indian conglomerate Tata said last month that it planned to sell its entire British steelmaking operation.
The prospect of at least10,000 job losses has prompted the government to offer financial support in the hope of securing a buyer. Javid said last week that the government could take a 25% equity stake as part of a support package worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, he said any deal would be structured to avoid running foul of EU rules on state aid.
"It will all be compatible with state aid... Government can provide financing as long as it's on commercial terms," he said.
"I don't envisage having to apply for any exemption or approval from state aid. Whatever we've got in mind is compliant." Javid, a former banker who is seen as one of the government's strongest free-market advocates, said any support package would be a commercial decision.
"It's not a bailout; it's not a nationalisation. Working within that framework we can see success at the end of the road," he said.
Javid also dismissed any suggestion that his willingness to help the sale had been influenced by a June 23 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, and the risk of triggering a large protest vote against the government. "I don't think the referendum changes things one way or the other," he said.