The European arm of the Indian steelmaking giant said today that seven expressions of interest for the company's entire UK assets had been taken forward, and Tata Steel Europe will still seek to sell the business to one bidder rather than break it down into multiple parts.
However, the total amount of bidders could rise higher as outstanding points are being clarified with what Tata describes as "a number of other parties".
City A.M. understands that more than 20 expressions of interest were submitted in total, although it is unclear how many of these were for the entire UK company and how many were for parts of its business.
Tata has said expressions of interest for parts of the UK business are not being taken forward at this point, although Tata confirmed on Sunday that it would consider breaking it up, a scenario which could mean heavier job losses than if it was sold intact.
Commodities trader Liberty House and newly-formed management buyout group Excalibur Steel have been the only companies to confirm they have submitted bids for the beleaguered British steel company.
Mr Koushik Chatterjee, group executive finance and corporate director of Tata Steel Limited, said: "We have been pleased with the response to the initial stage of the global sales process for Tata Steel’s UK business. Today’s announcement by Tata Steel Europe marks another important stage gate in this process.
"The expressions of interest received have been through a robust initial assessment process with inputs received from the UK Government whose views have been considered by the board. We believe that the bids being taken forward offer future prospects of sustainability for the UK business as a whole. The sales process will continue as announced earlier in an expedited and robust manner to deliver greater clarity for all key stakeholders such as employees, customers and suppliers."
Mr Chatterjee added: "Whilst the sales process continues, Tata Steel’s business in the UK under the new leadership team continues to focus on the business performance."
In the next phase of the sales process the progressing interested parties will be given access to further business information and management team presentations in order for them to progress to their interest to a binding stage as quickly as possible.
"Bidding is one thing, but the key factor will be the company's business plans and how they will attempt to make a loss-making plant profitable again," Mitchell Hugers, commodities strategist at BMI Research, said.
Excalibur Steel and Liberty House declined to comment.