Sanjeev Gupta meets UK biz minister Sajid Javid on Tata Steel UK buyout

Having evinced interest in acquiring certain assets of Tata Steel UK, Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta Tuesday met UK's Business Secretary Sajid Javid and said he is waiting for Tatas to start the "sales process" and promised that there will not be any major job cuts.

Sanjeev Gupta meets UK biz minister Sajid Javid on Tata Steel UK buyout

London: Having evinced interest in acquiring certain assets of Tata Steel UK, Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta Tuesday met UK's Business Secretary Sajid Javid and said he is waiting for Tatas to start the "sales process" and promised that there will not be any major job cuts.

The development comes amidst Javid's scheduled meeting with Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry Wednesday on the sales process for Tata Steel's UK operations.

 

"I am pleased to report that we had a positive meeting today. UK government appears highly supportive and is proactively engaged in finding a long-term solution. We have also actively engaged with Welsh Government and again we are encouraged by their approach," Gupta said in a statement.

The executive chairman of Liberty House Group further said: "The next step is for TATA to define the formal sales process and request indications of interest from potential buyers. We await further details on this and then will assess our own next step."

Gupta, who founded Liberty as a metals trading company from his student flat at Cambridge University in 1992, held crunch talks with Javid today before the UK minister flew out to Mumbai for a meeting with Mistry.

 

Before his meeting with Javid today, he in reference to acquiring the Port Talbot steelworks in Wales from Tata had said: "If we get involved in Port Talbot we will only do so on the basis that we are confident there will not be any mass redundancies."

Meanwhile, the UK government in a statement today said: "The meeting with Tata in Mumbai follows constructive meetings in London with trade unions, the EEF and UK Steel this week."

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron, Javid and Minister for the Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin met with Welsh Government First Minister Carwyn Jones to discuss the situation at the Port Talbot plant, it added.

 

In a reference to the large pension liability that could prove as a hurdle, Gupta said: "It's (pensions) a bit like a ball and chain around the company's ankles at the moment and the new buyer would want to have some reassurance that they won't inherit all of those liabilities.

"So, I think the government has indicated that it's going to focus on that and that's exactly what it should do."

He further said: "There has be some government intervention, directly or indirectly, to lighten the burden of the pension liabilities on any new buyer. I think if that does not happen, it is going to be very difficult." 

Liberty House has already proven its ability to build value from UK steel assets with its acquisition of the Newport Steel plant, Midlands engineering operations and most recently in Scotland where it acquired mills from Tata, Gupta added.

 

"Everyone is very motivated to find a solution," he said referring to the Tata Steel UK crisis.

Gupta's Liberty House has been behind a number of recent steel acquisitions in the UK, including a unit of Caparo Industries, which is owned by noted industrialist Lord Swraj Paul.

He hit the headlines last October for restarting the hot rolled coil production at its rolling mill in Newport, South Wales, after a 40-year hiatus.

With the reactivation of the Liberty Steel facility in Newport, the group's global steel production capacity now exceeds 4 million tonnes per annum.??

Last month, his firm had bought two mills in Scotland that had belonged to Tata Steel.

Tata Steel employs a total of 15,000 people in the UK -? though thousands of them are set to be transferred to buyout firm Greybull, which is expected any day to announce it has agreed a deal to purchase Tata's huge Scunthorpe plant in the east of England.

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