British government pledges support for steel plant

3rd April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The government will do all it can to keep Britain's biggest steelworks running, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said Sunday, in the face of a crisis threatening the country's steel industry.

Indian steel giant Tata Steel announced Tuesday it was putting its loss-making British business up for sale, including the Port Talbot plant on the south Wales coast.

Javid said he thought there was time to find a buyer for the plant and Tata Steel's other UK assets.

"Tata will issue an offer document very soon," he told BBC television.

The government is "also going to have to offer support to clinch that buyer and give that steel plant a long-term, viable future".

Tata Steel employs around 15,000 staff in Britain.

However, Port Talbot is reportedly losing £1 million (1.3 million euros, $1.4 million) a day in the face of high energy costs and plunging prices caused by a chronic global oversupply of steel and a glut of cheap imports, particularly from China.

The facility is Wales's biggest single employer.

"It wouldn't be prudent to rule anything out at this stage, but I think that nationalisation is rarely an answer in these situations," said Javid.

"I do feel, though... that there will be enough time to find the right buyer working with the government and being able to take this forward.

"We will look at everything we can do to allow a sale going ahead."

Metal processing company Liberty House is looking at some of Tata's British assets.

The group's president Sanjeev Gupta was quoted by The Sunday Telegraph newspaper as saying he was not interested in all of Tata's British assets but was prepared to enter negotiations.

"We would need a proper partnership with the government. I don't know what that would entail at this stage," he said, adding that he was heading to Britain on Monday.

"We are in the process of starting a discussion with Tata.

"If the company, its people, its workers and the government would be willing to consider my suggestions, then I'm willing to engage in a discussion about what role we will play in that."


© 2016 AFP

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