Liberty House confirms bid for Tata Steel’s UK assets

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 17:19 IST
File photo of the Tata Steel steel plant at Port Talbot, South Wales. Indian giant Tata Steel on March 30 put its British business up for sale, placing thousands of jobs at risk and striking a heavy blow to the crisis-hit steel industry. (AFP)

The first major bid for Tata Steel’s UK assets will be placed on the table this week after commodities firm Liberty House headed by Sanjeev Gupta confirmed it will submit a Letter of Intent for all the holdings, including the giant Port Talbot plant in Wales.

Over 60 international companies and consortiums are said to be examining the sale documents. A management buyout at Port Talbot with likely assistance from the UK and Wales governments is also being considered.

The bid led by Gupta will seek to convert existing blast furnaces – considered unviable – to electric arc furnaces to recycle steel from scrap rather than produce steel from iron ore and coal. Successful conversion of all furnaces is expected to prevent redundancies.

More clarity on bids by Gupta and others is expected on Tuesday after the bank holiday weekend.

“We can confirm that Liberty will submit a letter of intent to Tata Steel on Tuesday and has put in place a strong internal transaction team and panel of leading external advisers to take the bid forward,” a Liberty House spokesman said over the weekend.

Liberty’s bid reportedly includes participation by State Bank of India and Australian bank Macquarie. Former senior Tata Steel executives are said to be advising Gupta in putting together the bid.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said last week that potential buyers of Tata Steel’s UK assets were unwilling to take on the liabilities of the company’s pension fund that has a deficit of £485 million.

However, the sale of UK assets is expected to be facilitated by the government taking a maximum of 25% stake in the new business.

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