Tata Steel still considering bids for its UK assets


The Tata board met in Mumbai today (Source: Getty)

Tata Steel is still considering bids for its loss-making UK business, despite hopes for a shortlist of bidders to be revealed after its board meeting today.

The announcement came after Tata execs scrutinised the details of the bids, as well as discussing the British government's support for a potential sale in Mumbai.

Finance director, Koushik Chatterjee, subsequently told reporters: "We are in the process of evaluating the offers and bids that have come up."

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"We are in the confidential phase of this process so you have to give time to the company to evaluate the bids."

Tata must whittle down a shortlist of serious bidders before deciding on a buyer. City A.M. understands steel unions will hold talks with these to try and save the 11,000 jobs which are at risk.

Sources told Reuters that management buyout vehicle Excalibur Steel, Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty House metals group, India's JSW Steel Ltd and Greybull Capital have all submitted separate bids for Tata's UK operations.

Commentators have voiced concerns over the size of JSW's debt pile, as well as its ability to expand overseas. City A.M. also understands Greybull isn't a frontrunner.

Prime minister David Cameron said earlier today that Tata received an encouraging number of serious offers, but there were no guarantees of a successful conclusion.

"We continue to work towards trying to get a good outcome for Tata in south Wales, the sales process is under way, there has been an encouraging number of serious offers coming through," he said.

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The business secretary, Sajid Javid, flew to Mumbai to talk to Tata execs ahead of today's meeting. 

Government support is likely to take the form of a loan on commercial terms, however it could also result in it taking an equity stake of up to 25 per cent.

A major hurdle to the sale of Tata's UK assets is a £485m pensions deficit, although the government is yet to specify how it will mitigate this liability.

Tags: Steel crisis