Tata bidders prepare for Monday deadline in race to save UK steel industry

 
Billy Bambrough
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Tata Prepares To Sell British Steel Operation
India's Tata Steel put the loss-making business up for sale earlier this year, hoping for a quick sale process (Source: Getty)

The seven bidders vying to buy Tata Steel's UK business are racing to finalise their bids ahead of Monday's deadline, City A.M. understands.

Indian conglomerate Tata revealed last week that it would take seven bidders forward to the next stage of the buying process.

It is unlikely that details of the individual bids will be made public once they are submitted on Monday, a source close to the process told City A.M.

The short-list is made up of steel, commodities and property group Liberty House; employee-management buyout vehicle Excalibur; private equity investor Greybull Capital; Chinese producer Hebei Iron and Steel group; India's second largest steel maker JSW Steel; the US' largest steel producer Nucor, and Leeds-based private equity investor Endless.

Read more: US steel tariffs put UK market at greater risk says Labour

It is not clear who is currently leading the bids, though Excalibur and Liberty House have been the most vocal since the process began.

It is now expected Tata will consider the bids ahead of a board meeting on 25 June.

It is understood Tata stripped out dozens of potential bidders from the running as it wants to offload the business as a whole.

Gareth Stace, the director of industry body UK Steel, told City A.M.:

The more parties that are interested, the better. It is clear from the level of interest that the UK's steel industry is healthy.

The problem is that it's facing an unfair level of competition that others aren’t.

The crisis facing the industry was sparked by an increase in Chinese exports of steel as demand within the country slowed.

The US has slapped taxes of 522 per cent on imports of Chinese-made cold-rolled flat steel to prop up its domestic producers.

Read more: Chinese steelmakers hit out at US tariff hike

In comparison the EU is currently prevented from taxing Chinese imports due to the so-called “lesser duty rule”, which some countries want to end in order to allow higher tariffs.

Business secretary Sajid Javid has come out in favour of the lesser duty rule due to the damage that removing it could do to other industries.

The UK government had been involved in helping to decide which bids would progress and has promised to support any buyer by taking a maximum 25 per cent stake in a new business and lending hundreds of millions of pounds.

Tata put its UK business up for sale in April, putting more than 4,000 jobs at risk at its Port Talbot steelworks alone and thousands more across the country.

Read more: EU launches investigation into Chinese steel exports

The sale includes Port Talbot, as well as sites at Newport and Rotherham.

In April, Greybull Capital bought Tata's long products Europe business, including its Scunthorpe plant, saving 4,000 jobs.

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