Liberty House to Begin Formal Talks With Tata Steel Next Week

  • U.K. Business Secretary met Tata Steel officials on Wednesday
  • Company has already agreed to buy Tata units in Scotland

Liberty House Group will begin formal talks about buying Tata Steel Ltd.’s Port Talbot plant and its British processing operations on April 11 as the Indian steelmaker seeks to exit the U.K. businesses.

The private company will need time to reach a valuation because any deal would be complex, Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta told Indian television channel ET Now on Thursday. Liberty House has talked with advisers on legal and banking issues, he said.

U.K. Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who met with Tata officials in Mumbai on Wednesday, said the formal sales process will begin on Monday and that a reasonable period of time will be given to find a buyer. The British government is trying to combat a crisis in its domestic steel industry after Tata Steel said last week it’s considering the sale of its unprofitable U.K. division, jeopardizing 40,000 jobs. Steelmakers around the world have been hurt by a flood of cheap exports from China.

“Tata Steel doesn’t want to see the plants shut as liabilities will follow,” Gupta said. “One way or the other the plants will be sold."

Liberty House, which has agreed to buy Tata plants in Scotland, is confident of getting support from labor unions in the U.K., Gupta said. A purchase of Port Talbot in South Wales would work if the government removed pension and environmental liabilities and eliminated taxes for a power plant owned by Liberty House, the Financial Times cited Gupta as saying on April 6.