• Tata says selling business without Port Talbot not a solution
  • Company announced sale of U.K. business after years of losses

Tata Steel Ltd. said that while it has no fixed deadline to sell its ailing U.K. steel operations, it must act quickly to stem losses.

“Urgency is important,” Bimlendra Jha, chief executive officer of the company’s U.K. business, told a committee of U.K. lawmakers Thursday. “We cannot continue to bleed.”

Tata Steel said last month that it plans to sell its U.K. operations after years of losses, putting 15,000 jobs at risk and raising the alarm for British politicians. The company is still trying to negotiate the sale of its big Port Talbot plant in South Wales along with other assets around the U.K. European steelmakers are struggling with prices that have fallen by more than 50 percent since 2008 and a glut in global supply.

Jha said today that while the company might consider selling “very small” assets separately, it would not want to sell its U.K. business without Port Talbot as part of the deal.

The U.K. government has offered “hundreds of millions of pounds” of financial support as an incentive to a potential buyer of Tata’s operations. It said an offer would be available on commercial terms to the purchaser and largely be comprised of debt financing. The state may consider taking a stake of as much as 25 percent.

“We would not be selling the business if we were not losing money,” Jha said.

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