Tatas will launch the sale process by Monday for its cash-guzzling steel business in the UK with the British government today promising to help find a serious buyer in its bid to secure jobs of thousands of workers at plants there.
Facing intense pressure from labour unions and opposition parties, the British government air-dashed its Business Minister Sajid Javid to Mumbai this morning for a marathon meeting with Tata Group Chairman chief Cyrus Mistry and other top officials to discuss contours of the sale process.
While Tata officials kept mum about the issues discussed with the British Minister, Javid said after meeting that Tata Steel will launch the formal sale process by Monday, April 11 and the UK Government was committed to do its part to help find a “serious buyer”.
He also said that no timeframe was yet decided to complete the sale process and Tatas will allow “a reasonable period to find a buyer”.
“British govt is determined to secure a long-term viable future for UK steel sector and its workers,” said Javid, who also tweeted to term his meeting as “constructive and positive”.
Besides a two-hour long meeting with Mistry and other top officials at Bombay House, the iconic headquarter of the Tata Group, Javid also met Tata Steel’s Group Executive Director Koushik Chatterjee.
During his meetings with officials of Tata Group, which has put its steel operations in UK on the block after grappling with huge losses and severe cash burn, Javid is understood to have discussed broader contours of the sale process and is said to have pressed upon Tatas to ensure that there were no job losses.
While a large posse of reporters including from the British media had assembled outside Bombay House since morning, a Tata Steel spokesman said he has nothing to share with the media.
Tata Steel UK employs around 15,000 people and the British Government is keen to save these jobs in an already bad economic environment, especially for the steel industry which once was among the most prominent ones in the country.
The meeting comes within a week of the Tatas putting up for sale the British operations of Tata Steel, which it had acquired as Corus in April 2007 at the peak of commodity price hike cycle for over USD 12 billion but has since then never been able to turn around.