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Two formal bids emerge for Tata Steel UK

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Two formal bids, including one by a team of former Tata Steel staff who have the backing of the Welsh government, have emerged to acquire the Indian steel gaint’s loss-making UK assets.

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While one was confirmed yesterday by Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House group, the second is by a team of former Tata Steel staff.

Excalibur Steel UK Limited, the management buyout (MBO) team backed by Welsh technology billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, confirmed it has also submitted its letter of intent.

“I can confirm that the Welsh Labour government is giving financial support to the MBO team to help them put their bid together,” Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said.

Excalibur is led by Stuart Wilkie, until recently managing director of Tata Steel UK, who believes he has come up with a sound turnaround plan for the operations.

Excalibur chief executive Wilkie said: “It was only two weeks ago we made the decision to pursue a buyout. We believe we have a large number of the pieces in place required to make this a success, including a management team with vast experience of steel-making and processing.

“We are confident we can turn the business around and sustain profitable steel-making in the United Kingdom.”

According to UK media reports, his proposal is based around a rescue deal that was rejected by Tata’s board in Mumbai in March, calling on interested staff to invest 10,000 pounds each.

The UK government has promised to put in place measures worth hundreds of millions of pounds to support any rescue deal for the Indian group’s UK business – which could include taking a stake of up to 25 per cent.

Liberty had given details of its bid yesterday, which is based on the company’s ‘Greensteel’ business model and would involve a transition from steelmaking in blast furnaces to recycling steel in electric arc furnaces over time. Codenamed “Project Greensteel Pluto”, the takeover is aimed at ultimately powering steel-making through renewable energy sources.

“Liberty believes the UK steel industry can achieve long-term viability if based on an agile, sustainable, non-cyclical model which integrates liquid steel-making from recycling with downstream production and the manufacture of advanced engineering products,” the company statement said.
Liberty is being supported by a panel of experts and

financial advisers led by investment bankersMacquarie Capital (Europe) Limited, with the State Bank of India Capital Markets as co-financial advisers.

Tata Steel UK assets up for sale include the largest Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales, as well as Newport, where more than 1,300 people are employed, and Rotherham, which employs 1,200. Tata also has operations at Corby, Shotton and Teesside.

Liberty had recently completed its acquisition of two Scottish plants earlier owned by Tata Steel and the firm’s Long Products division based in Scunthorpe had been sold to Greybull Capital for a token 1 pound last month.

PTI

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