Britain seeks steel sales deal with Tata at meeting in India

5th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

British Business Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday said he wanted to secure an agreement on the future of Tata Steel's British assets at a meeting in Mumbai.

Speaking as he prepared to fly to India for Wednesday's meeting, Javid said the British government was ready to work with any potential buyers of the assets, a week after Tata Steel said it planned to sell them, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

"This meeting I'm having tomorrow will be with Cyrus Mistry, the chairman of the whole Tata group, and what I want to achieve mostly out of that is to have a final agreement on the sales process."

An Indian tycoon who could step in to buy some of Tata Steel's assets in Britain said Monday he hoped to avoid mass redundancies if the deal went through, as the government scrambled to find a new owner.

Sanjeev Gupta, the boss of steel and metals company Liberty House who has arrived in Britain for talks, told the BBC that he had held "very encouraging" discussions with the government.

He added that he would want to change the kind of furnaces used at the main asset, the Port Talbot steel works in south Wales, and retrain some 700 workers.

Javid said he had held a "very constructive" meeting Tuesday with the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, adding: "What it shows is that you've got the UK government and the Welsh government working together on this really important issue and that's the way to continue."

Prime Minister David Cameron's government has been racing to find a buyer for the Tata Steel assets and save 15,000 jobs amid growing pressure from the opposition, trade unions and the press to safeguard the iconic British steel industry which dates back to the 19th century.

India's Tata Steel announced last week it would sell off its British assets due to a global oversupply of steel, cheap imports into Europe from countries including China, high costs and currency volatility.

Britain's government is meanwhile working on a plan to take on some pension liabilities and reduce energy costs to make a deal more attractive to a potential buyer.

And investment firm Greybull Capital is reportedly in the running to buy another of the Tata assets, the steel works at Scunthorpe in eastern England.

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© 2016 AFP

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