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We are interested in Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant: Sanjeev Gupta

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Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta has said his firm Liberty House is interested in acquiring Tata Steel’s strip business in the UK, which is based at the steel major’s Port Talbot plant.

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“We are interested in all their strip businesses, that means Port Talbot and all the downstream businesses, which Port Talbot supplies. Long Steel business is in advanced stages with Greybull and that is not on our mind,” Gupta said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

Gupta, who is the executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said the deal to acquire Port Talbot is at a preliminary stage.

“We have had meetings with the UK government and Welsh government and their support has been solid and they are committed to finding a solution to the sale of these assets on a viable on-going basis.

“But the situation we are at is that we now need to engage with the Tatas and the actual sales process needs to begin, we then need to do our due diligence and come up with a detailed business plan,” he added.

When asked about the financial details of the deal, he said the transaction details are not clear at this stage.

“As I said once the engagement process starts and we do our due diligence, then we will negotiate on the transaction.

But as it is a loss making business our focus will be on how to turn it around and what resources are required for this,” Gupta said.

On the capital expenditure required after taking over the plant, he said the capex requirements will change, quite dramatically, based on Liberty House’s plan as the firm will not be undertaking this investment if it is based on the existing plan.

“Because with the existing plan if this had to work it would have been worked by now because Tatas have been spending a lot of money over a long period of time trying to make this work,” Gupta said.

On his plans, he said: “So we want to remodel and do this into a new business plan altogether and the capex required for that needs to be re-examined. We need to go in and we need to put together a detailed plan on how much it will take or what time frame.

“We want to transition from blast furnace to electric arc furnace, so we need to work out what that capex is and how long it takes and so on. And based on that we will put together a proposal.”

Gupta said he would look to convert the plant into a secondary steel producer from a primary steel producer.

UK’s Business Minister Sajid Javid said Tatas will launch the sale process by Monday for its cash-guzzling steel business in the UK.

Facing intense pressure from labour unions and opposition parties, the UK government air-dashed Javid to Mumbai for a marathon meeting with Tata Group Chairman chief Cyrus Mistry to discuss contours of the sale.


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