Tata Steel holds first board meeting since Brexit vote

Jessica Morris
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Tata Prepares To Sell British Steel Operation
Unite warned Tata about walking away from Port Talbot (Source: Getty)

Tata Steel will hold its first board meeting since Britain voted to leave the European Union, with board members widely expected to discuss the future of its loss-making UK business.

Business secretary Sajid Javid flew to India for talks with the company last night. It comes amid a report that Tata could "pause" the sale of its main Port Talbot plant which manufactures steel strips following the Brexit vote.

Read more: Pressure grows on Tata to push ahead with sale

Nevertheless, the Indian conglomerate could still press ahead with the sale of its speciality business which would be easier for a potential buyer to turnaround. This operation employs 2,000 people in Hartlepool, Rotherham and Stocksbridge.

Rising steel prices are believed to have reduced the urgency of the sales process. But an industry source told City A.M. yesterday that the UK business' huge pensions burden was behind the delay. The British Steel Pension Fund has a deficit of £700m.

Harish Patel, national officer at Unite, issued a stark warning yesterday to Tata about walking away from Port Talbot in a few years' time after leaving it to "wither on the vine".

"The cloud of uncertainty over steelworkers' heads needs to be lifted by Tata giving binding commitments about its long-term intentions regarding Port Talbot and its UK strips business," he said.

Read more: Edi Truell says Brexit encouraged him to put together £1 bid for Tata UK

Patel continued: "Port Talbot and the UK strips business can have a viable and profitable long-term future with the right investment."

"Unite will be pressing Tata for clarity over its intention and ensuring it sticks to its promise to be a responsible seller and act ethically."

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