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British govt pledges support for crisis-hit Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant

PTI 04 Apr 2016, 10:39:53 IST
PTI

London: The British Government on Sunday pledged its support for steel plants facing a crisis in the country, saying it is ready to support a buyer to save the Port Talbot plant which is facing closure after the Indian giant Tata Steel decided to sell its loss-making businesses in the UK.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said that he did not think nationalisation was the solution but did not rule it out. "It wouldn't be prudent to rule anything out at this stage, but I think that nationalisation is rarely an answer in these situations," Javid said.

He said that any buyer would want to look at "plant, pensions and power supply", which ministers were "working on". "I do feel, though... that there will be enough time to find the right buyer working with the government and being able to take this forward. We will look at everything we can do to allow a sale going ahead," he said.

Javid said he thought there was time to find a buyer for the Port Talbot plant and Tata Steel's other UK assets. "Tata will issue an offer document very soon," he said.

Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, president of Metal processing company Liberty House, is understood to have been in touch with the government over a potential purchase. A source close to Gupta said the discussions had not been substantive yet but he would be seeking further talks when he arrives back in the UK today.

"If the company, its people, its workers and the government would be willing to consider my suggestions, then I'm willing to engage in a discussion about what role we will play in that," Gupta said.

Gupta wanted to discuss possible government help to replace Port Talbot's traditional blast furnaces with modern electric arc furnaces and energy costs. Extra relief from carbon tax was another important issue.