Potential Tata buyer to hold talks with Government today

The Tata steelworks in Rotherham.   Picture Tony JohnsonThe Tata steelworks in Rotherham.   Picture Tony Johnson
The Tata steelworks in Rotherham. Picture Tony Johnson
The head of a group which could rescue steel plants and save thousands of jobs said he is aiming to avoid any redundancies if a deal is agreed.

Sanjeev Gupta, the head of the Liberty Group, will have talks with the Government today over the prospect of taking over the loss-making assets of Indian giant Tata.

The race is now on to find buyers for a series of Tata sites across the UK including those in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Redcar as well as the Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales.

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He made it clear it was “early days” in the sale process but raised hopes that jobs could be saved, especially at the huge plant in Port Talbot.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the business could be turned around.

Asked if redundancies could be avoided, he said: “That would definitely be my objective.”

Mr Gupta said production could be expanded but with different methods.

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Liberty has not even started due diligence as it was not expecting Tata to make its announcement so quickly, he said.

“This is my first day back in the UK. I am still to engage fully. We will see how the week unfolds.”

He added it would take years to make the transition on production changes.

Mr Gupta said pension liabilities were an issue but the most pressing need was to ensure the viability of plants.

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Business Secretary Sajid Javid will travel to Mumbai on Tuesday night to meet the chairman of Tata as efforts to save thousands of jobs are stepped up.

He will hold talks with Cyrus Mistry to discuss details of the sales process for the firm’s UK steel operations.

Mr Javid was in Australia on a business trip when the announcement was made a week ago, leading to union claims that he had “taken his eye off the ball”.

Mr Javid will join a meeting in Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron and the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, before holding talks with union leaders later on Tuesday.