Tata Steel to formally launch sale of UK operations today: report

Tata Steel, Europe's second-largest steelmaker, is expected to formalise the process of selling its loss-making UK plants, inviting interested bidders to submit their offers.

Reports said besides Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty Steel that has publicly expressed an interest in acquiring Tata Steel's UK asset (See: Liberty House boss Sanjiv Gupta in talks to buy Tata Steel), investment firm Greybull Capital has also been in talks to buy the business for several months.

Greybull could invest up to £400m to buy Tata's Scunthorpe plant, BBC reported, adding that a deal could be finalised on Monday.

A deal could help save thousands of workers in England and Wales who risk losing their jobs without a deal.

Scunthorpe, in north-east England, making bloom, billet and slab; medium sections, rail, wire rod and plate.

Besides, Tata Steel has plants in Port Talbot in south Wales, which produces slab, hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanised coil.

Steel is also made at a scrap-fed mini-mill complex in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in northern England. Alloy and special steels are made at this site.  Ultra-pure remelted steels are made at the nearby Stocksbridge works

Tata Steel employs 15,000 people directly in the UK, across plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby and Shotton, besides supporting thousands of other jobs.

Besides Liberty Steel and Greybull Capital, German Group ThyssenKrupp has also been reported to be interested in acquiring part of Tata's UK steel operations.

Tata Steel has said there is "no fixed timeline" for the sale process, but said that it would avoid "a long period of uncertainty" as it would hurt employees and customers.

According to the BBC, Greybull, which has been in talks to buy the business for several months, could finalise a deal to buy Tata's Scunthorpe plant today.

A deal would safeguard more than 4,000 jobs but workers would have to forego some perks and accept a lower pension scheme.

While Tata wants a quick deal, Liberty's Gupta said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that he felt there was "a very clear opportunity to turn things around, make money and create a sustainable business".

But he said, "I feel passionately about this and would like to do it, but I am not married to it.

"It is too big a deal for us to get wrong. It could put the whole company at risk."

UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid had last week met Tata Group chief Cyrus Mistry in Mumbai and had sought a "reasonable amount of time" for the sale process, so that other interested parties would come forward.

Javid said he was caught unawares by Tata's announcement, telling the BBC that while he had known the firm was reviewing its UK operations, it had gone "much further than we expected". He is under pressure over the handling of the crisis.

Unions have accused the business secretary of "taking his eye off the ball" and have called for him to stand down if a buyer for the steelworks is not found.

The steel industry crisis has been driven by falling prices and a global oversupply, especially from cheap Chinese products.