Corus job cutter on his way

THE steel industry boss who announced the mothballing of a major Corus plant in Teesside is to leave the company in October.

American Kirby Adams joined Corus, the European division of Indian steelmaker Tata, just over a year ago when the company was losing around 100m a month and facing a major slump in international steel markets.

It is now making a profit, but the turnaround has come at the expense of thousands of jobs.

Corus laid off more than 1,000 people from its South Yorkshire plants last year.

The decision to mothball the Teesside site was taken after a consortium walked away from a key contract to buy its slab steel.

Mr Adams, who will be replaced at the helm of Tata Steel Europe by chief operating officer Karl-Ulrich Kohler, is returning to Australia where he worked before joining Corus. He will continue to advise Tata Steel.

Dr Kohler joined Corus in February after a 30-year steel industry career at the companies that today comprise ThyssenKrupp Steel.

Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Steel, said he believed the Corus business was well placed after Mr Adams delivered a major turnaround.

Europe's second-largest steel producer, created in 1999 through the merger of British Steel and a Dutch firm, employs around 20,000 people in the UK, including at major steelworks at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot.

In February, Corus began the mothballing of its Redcar cast products facility, costing 1,600 jobs and ending 170 years of mass steelmaking.

The company came under heavy fire from unions and politicians for not doing more to help to rescue the site. MPs criticised Mr Adams for not attending a select committee examining the closure plan at Teesside.

Last June, Corus announced plans to axe more than 2,000 jobs at plants including Rotherham, Stocksbridge, near Sheffield and Scunthorpe. This followed on from a similar job cuts move at the start of 2009.

In April it said increasing demand for speciality steel would create 160 jobs in Rotherham and Stocksbridge.