India-born entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta was seen as the ‘saviour’ after he declared on Tuesday that there would be no redundancies if his offer to buy Tata Steel’s assets in Britain were accepted, as advanced talks are scheduled in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Business secretary Sajid Javid, who is at the centre of David Cameron government’s efforts to deal with the Tatas’ sell-off plans, arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday evening to meet Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry.
A series of meetings on the sell-off plans were held during the day in London, including discussions with Koushik Chatterjee, CFO of Tata Steel.
Founder of commodities firm Liberty House, Gupta said: “Many (parts of the business) are loss-making at the moment but we believe they can be turned around. The biggest problem we see is the blast furnaces because they are importing all their raw material to smelt steel.”
He told BBC that his group’s alternative suggestion would be to still make hot metal, but to make it from local raw scrap material rather than imported raw material: “Making new steel doubles our carbon footprint. There is a way of making steel in the UK which has a much lower carbon footprint that what we currently do”.
“At the moment we export our scrap and bring back steel - we import 6 million tonnes of steel. I would like to see more of that being made here. So our commitment would be not just to produce what is currently produced but actually to expand production eventually in due course.”
Before leaving for Mumbai, Javid said he had ‘productive’ talks with Tata executives in London. He also met union officials keen to ensure that thousands of jobs are saved as part of the impending change of ownership of Tata Steel in Britain. There is also interest from Germany to buy parts of the business .
The series of meetings in London included one between Wales first minister Carwyn Jones and Cameron, who was urged to offer “substantial support” to potential buyers of Tata Steel plants. The Port Talbot plant is based in Wales.
After a crisis meeting in Downing Street, Jones said it was “heartening” to hear that nothing was off the table, and favoured temporary public ownership to make time to find a buyer.
“Discussions have taken place with buyers - these are early days yet, but we do have something to build on even at this early stage. If the UK government needs to take over Tata’s assets in the short term to enable a sale process to take place then that’s something the UK government should consider,” he said.
“What’s important now is we carry on working to make sure the jobs we have in steel in Wales, and indeed the jobs in England, can be preserved for the future”.