Tata Steel Moving Forward With Sale of U.K. Specialty Unit

  • Company still open to selling Port Talbot unit: Chatterjee
  • Discussions with Thyssenkrupp on Europe operations continue

Tata Steel Ltd. plans to move to the next stage in the sale of its specialty steels unit in the U.K. after it received interest from several buyers as the Indian producer tries to sell unprofitable assets.

The sale process of its South Yorkshire-based unit is progressing well, while the company remains open to selling its Port Talbot plant, Group Executive Director Koushik Chatterjee told reporters in Mumbai after the company’s annual general meeting.

In July, Tata Steel said it entered into talks with companies including Germany’s Thyssenkrupp AG on a possible joint venture in Europe. It started separate sale processes for its specialty steels and Hartlepool pipe mills and is evaluating bids for its Port Talbot plant following Britain’s move to leave the European Union. Tata announced in March that it planned to sell its U.K. operations after years of losses, putting 15,000 jobs at risk.

Tata Steel will “wait and watch” how the Brexit negotiations shape up and will continue its conversations with players such as Thyssenkrupp as part of its strategy for the European business, Chatterjee said. Discussions are ongoing with steel unions in the U.K., as well as with trustees and the government on the pension plan, he said.

The U.K. government is considering changing the country’s steel pension plan to aid the sale of Tata Steel’s units, parliamentary minutes showed in May. Tata Steel’s pension plan may have a deficit of between 700 million pounds and 1.5 billion pounds, according to the minutes.

The British Steel Pension Scheme said Friday that it doesn’t expect buyers of Tata Steel units in the U.K. to fund a deficit and an entry into the pension protection fund is the most likely outcome.