Tata Steel to sell Europe long products units to Greybull

London, April 11 (IANS) Tata Steel on Monday announced an agreement to sell its long products Europe business to investment firm Greybull Capital for a “nominal” consideration. The business employs 4,800 people — 4,400 in Britain and 400 in France.

“The sale for a nominal consideration, would be in exchange for Greybull Capital taking on the whole of the business, including assets and relevant liabilities, and securing an appropriate funding package,” the company said in a statement.

“The deal will be completed once a number of outstanding conditions have been resolved, including transfer of contracts, certain government approvals and the satisfactory completion of financing arrangements.”

Long products include wire rods, rails and billets used by construction, engineering, energy and automotive industries, while flat products include coils, and heavy plates used for automotives, heavy machinery, pipes, tubes, construction, packaging and appliances.

“This sale is the best possible outcome for employees who have worked relentlessly to ensure the business’s survival, and helped to make it attractive to a potential buyer,” said Bimlendra Jha, executive chairman of the stand-alone long products Europe business.

The pact follows an accelerated process of talks between Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital, and considered an important milestone on the road toward continuing steelmaking in Scunthorpe and steel processing in other locations in Britain and France.

The sale covers several Britain-based assets including the Scunthorpe steelworks, two mills in Teesside, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York, and associated distribution facilities, as well as a mill in northern France.

“Under these current challenging conditions in Europe with soaring levels of imports from China, we are happy Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital have entered the final stage of completion of the sale of shareholding in long steel UK,” said Hans Fischer, chief executive for Tata Europe.

“This transaction will offer a future for long products Europe business and its employees.”

Meanwhile, Tata Steel on Monday began the formal process of selling its Britain steel business.

Having suffered nearly $3 billion in losses on its UK operations, Tata Steel had said this month that it will explore options to put its entire portfolio there up for sale, some 10 years after it forayed into Europe by acquiring the Anglo-Dutch Corus for over $8.1 billion.

In a statement here, Tata Steel said it “has decided to commence the process of divestment of its entire shareholding” in its British business.

“The formal process has commenced today (Monday) with the despatch of the Summary Information Memorandum to potential investors,” the statement said.

“It is the intention of Tata Steel Europe to run a thorough, but expedited sale process by reaching out to a wide universe of potential investors globally,” it added.

The company said the move was to cut its heavy losses from high manufacturing costs, competition with China and a global steel glut.

British Business Secretary Sajid Javid flew to Mumbai last week to hold talks with the Tata Group top brass led by chairman Cyrus Mistry, in a bid to avert over 40,000 job losses at Tata Steel UK.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Javid called it “constructive and positive” and said the Tata Group was a “responsible company”.

India-born, London-based businessman Sanjiv Kumar Gupta, founder of the Liberty House, is touted as a strong contender to take over Tata Steel’s British assets. He was one of the potential buyers Javid met in London before flying out to Mumbai.

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