Tata Steel nears UK plants’ sale: Report
An American tycoon is reportedly in last-minute talks to <g data-gr-id="27">seal</g> a takeover of Tata Steel’s UK <g data-gr-id="28">steel works</g> amid a supply imbalance facing the global steel industry.
Switzerland-based commodities magnate Gary Klesch is trying to finalise a deal to buy the UK section of Tata’s “long products” unit, ‘The Sunday Times’ reported. The unit has about 6,500 staff and steel plants in Scunthorpe, Teesside, Dalzell and <g data-gr-id="31">Clydebridge</g> in Scotland, and also France and Germany.
The Scunthorpe site in northern England, which is under discussion as part of the agreement is the largest of all. The Tata group last week wrote down the value of the long steels division to zero with a 500-million pound provision, paving the way for the sale.
It blamed the <g data-gr-id="32">writedown</g> on the “supply imbalance facing the global steel industry”. The division has struggled amid stagnant European construction markets. Sources told the newspaper that Tata and Klesch are in talks this weekend to finalise the deal, announced last autumn. The tycoon set up Klesch Group in 1990, growing it into a Euro 5 billion empire spanning chemicals, metals and oil. Based in Geneva, it has more than 2,000 staff in about 30 locations.
Klesch was behind the failed buyout of the Milford Haven oil refinery from America’s <g data-gr-id="29">Murco</g> last year. He had lined up more than 100 million pound of state aid to support the deal before its collapse in November.
The steel takeover is understood to hinge on guarantees to keep sites open for a number of years. Almost 4,000 staff are based at the 150-year-old Scunthorpe site. The UK government is believed to be unwilling to pump funds into the Tata deal but it is believed the Tata group may opt to retain the division should the negotiations collapse.