A deal to prop up Tata Steel's Port Talbot site is edging closer

 
Francesca Washtell
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Tata Prepares To Sell British Steel Operation
Port Talbot is the UK's largest plant by production (Source: Getty)

Tata Steel is thought to be close to agreeing a deal that will protect thousands of jobs at its Port Talbot steelmaking plant in Wales.

The Indian conglomerate is edging towards a deal that will plough investment into the UK's largest steel plant and safeguard the roles of 4,500 employees, sources told Sky News. In return, the agreement will contain a number of concessions on staff terms and conditions.

Tata announced plans to sell the site in March after a string of losses, driven by falling steel prices. In July, it backtracked on a straight-up sale, favouring instead to explore a tie-up with German steel major ThyssenKrupp.

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A decision is expected by 21 December, when Tata will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting in Mumbai, where the company is headquartered. Observers are increasingly expecting the conglomerate to announce a commitment to its strip products business and new investment to Port Talbot regardless of the progress on talks with ThyssenKrupp.

City A.M. understands union representatives will meet this Wednesday to discuss Tata’s ongoing situation.

Read more: Tata steelworkers boosted by the emergence of new cost figures

Steelworkers union Community has long said there is “no future” for Port Talbot without two blast furnaces. Unions are hoping to hash out an agreement with the company that ensures progress on pension schemes, jobs and production.

It was reported on Sunday that concerns had emerged over the group’s commitment to maintaining both furnaces, as one is in need of relining, which is estimated to cost more than £100m.

Tata Steel declined to comment.

Cheap steel imports from Russia and China are expected to continue to weigh on European prices into 2017, according to a recent report from Moody’s Investors Service.

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