London: Tata Steel Europe today announced it has received seven expressions of interest to acquire the firm's UK ailing business.
All seven have been "immediately taken forward" to the next stage of the sale process, which involves inputs from the UK government, the firm said in a statement.
Koushik Chatterjee, Group Executive Director (Finance and Corporate), Tata Steel Limited, said, "We are pleased with the response to the initial stage of the global sales process for Tata Steel's UK business. Today's announcement by Tata Steel Europe marks another important stage gate in this process.
"The expressions of interest received have been through a robust initial assessment process with inputs received from the UK government whose views have been considered by the board.
"We believe that the bids being taken forward offer future prospects of sustainability for the UK business as a whole. The sales process will continue as announced earlier in an expedited and robust manner to deliver greater clarity for all key stakeholders such as employees, customers and suppliers, he said.
"Whilst the sales process continues, Tata Steel's business in the UK under the new leadership team continues to focus on the business performance," he said.
The UK government has promised to put in place measures worth hundreds of millions of pounds to support any rescue deal for Tata's UK business ? which could include taking a stake of up to 25 percent.
Tata Steel Europe said it is also clarifying outstanding points with a number of other parties who have submitted an expression of interest.
It said that the seven expressions of interest being take forward fit in with the company's "primary intention" to ensure the sale of the whole of Tata Steel's UK business.
"Expressions of interest for parts of the UK business are not being taken forward at this point," the firm said.
In the next phase of the sales process the progressing interested parties will be given access to further business information and management team presentations in order for them to rapidly progress their interest to a binding stage.
Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty House and a Excalibur Steel UK Limited,?a management buyout (MBO) team of former Tata Steel staff who have the backing of the Welsh government, are among the frontrunners to acquire the Indian steel giant's UK assets.
These include the Port Talbot steel plant in south Wales, which is the UK's largest and employs around 4,000 workers as well as sites at Newport, where more than 1,300 people are employed, and Rotherham, which employs 1,200.
Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron said his government is "talking intensively" with Tata Steel and will work with it to create a shortlist of "serious" buyers of the Indian steel giant's loss making units in the UK.
"What we're doing is talking intensively with Tata to make sure they do everything they can to make sure this is a serious sales process," Cameron said while addressing the House of Commons.
"We need to work intensively with Tata and with those buyers to get that list down to those who are really seriously intending to bid for the business. It's a very short time table," he told MPs.