With its plants in Britain facing “severe cash burn”, Tata Steel today said it is working on a “priority” basis to review shutdown of its facilities in the country, including UK’s largest steel plant at Port Talbot.
Tata Steel, one of the flagships of over $ 100-billion Tata Group, last week said it is exploring all options for portfolio restructuring, including potential divestment of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts, amid a deteriorating financial performance of the arm in the last 12 months.
“In recent months, there has been a significant cash drain, which is why a time-bound solution is important in this whole process. Our endeavour will be preserving the asset and doing this in an orderly manner as far as possible.
“This is not a valuation exercise for Tata Steel. There is severe cash burn in our UK Operations. Hence, it is imperative to close the review on priority,” a Tata Steel spokesperson told PTI when asked about the plans of the firm to shut down its plans in the UK in about six weeks.
In the last five years, Tata Steel alone has suffered an asset impairment of about $ 3 billion on its UK business.
Besides, Port Talbot — its largest plant as well as of Britain’s — is reportedly losing about $ 1.4 million a day.
Asked about the company’s efforts in finding a buyer for its UK facilities, the company said: “The entire European portfolio is being reviewed in conjunction with stakeholders.”
The options will emerge post discussions and necessary actions can be taken for Europe, especially for the UK operations, excluding the Long Steels UK subsidiary, which is already part of separate and advanced discussions for sale to an investor, it added.
“As a responsible corporation, our endeavour will be to ensure the sale process is orderly and the operating strategy will support that,” said the spokesperson.
On the status of the sale of its Long Products business, the spokesperson said: “We are in advanced stage of discussion with Greybull for the sale of the Long Products UK business.”
As a matter of practice, the individual boards of the companies will review all options for portfolio restructuring from time to time, the spokesperson added.
The move by one of the world’s largest steelmakers to sell its business has threatened over 17,000 jobs in the UK amid a deepening crisis in the sector that the Indian conglomerate entered with much fanfare nearly a decade ago with $ 14-billion takeover of the Anglo-Dutch Corus.