Tata Steel: Would-be UK buyer Liberty’s jobs hope
4 April 2016
- From the section Wales
A potential buyer for Tata Steel in the UK believes he could take over all the business without mass job losses.
Sanjeev Gupta, the head of the Liberty Group said he had “very encouraging” talks with the UK Government so far but there was still a lot of work to do.
Mr Gupta told the BBC he believed jobs at Port Talbot could be saved if at least 700 workers in its blast furnaces were retrained.
He now wants detailed talks with Tata and ministers.
It comes after the Welsh assembly was recalled to discuss the crisis on Monday.
Mr Gupta, who is flying back to the UK on Monday evening, said it was a complicated deal, with a lot of components to it, from pensions to other liabilities.
Tata’s rolling mills and downstream businesses were relatively easier to tackle and he believed there was potential for expansion.
But he said the steel-making, heavy end of the business at Port Talbot was much tougher.
“The hot end is where we want to make the most dramatic changes,” he said.
Liberty has a £3.5bn turnover with 2,000 workers worldwide. It already operates a steel plant in Newport and is in the process of taking over two Tata plants in Scotland.
Mr Gupta said the idea was “we would look to transition from blast furnaces to arc furnaces, from imported raw material to domestically available scrap, from making carbon steel to making what we call green steel – melting and recycling scrap using renewable energy.”
Mr Gupta talked about retraining the workforce and not making job losses but it would take time, while the building of arc furnaces to replace blast furnaces would take a year to 18 months.
“We’ve never undertaken anything which requires redundancies – I won’t undertake something which will require mass redundancies,” he said.
“We will look to see how we can reposition the workforce from blast furnaces to arc furnaces. It will require a lot of planning and execution and it cannot be done overnight but be planned over a number of years.”
He said the most fundamental thing was to secure the hot end.
“These blast furnaces were constructed when some of the raw material was available domestically in the UK and also when there was demand in world market.
“In this excess capacity world, plants based on domestic iron ore or coal are going to be more competitive than plants like Port Talbot.
“There are many issues which have to be addressed but they are all addressable.”
This post was written by FSB News