Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House group said it has submitted its letter of intent to acquire Tata Steel’s loss-making UK assets on Tuesday.
The company described this as an “indicative bid for the entire issued share capital of Tata Steel UK,” central to which is the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales the UK’s largest and employs around 4,000 workers.
“The document, which was sent from Liberty’s international headquarters in London, states the company’s intention to bid for all of Tata Steel’s UK assets, excluding its Long Products division which is in the process of being sold separately and the Scottish Plate Assets that Liberty already acquired from Tata,” the company said in a statement.
The bid is based on Liberty’s ‘Greensteel’ business model and would involve a transition from steelmaking in blast furnaces to recycling steel in electric arc furnaces over time, while ensuring the company continues to meet key customers’ quality requirements. Steelmaking would be ultimately powered by renewable energy sources, it said.
“Liberty believes the UK steel industry can achieve long-term viability if based on an agile, sustainable, non-cyclical model which integrates liquid steel-making from recycling with downstream production and the manufacture of advanced engineering products.”
Besides Port Talbot, Liberty’s remaining assets include sites at Newport, where more than 1,300 people are employed, and Rotherham, which employs 1,200.
Tata also has operations at Corby, Shotton and Teesside.
Liberty had recently completed its acquisition of two Scottish plants earlier owned by Tata Steel.
Liberty said that in order to take the bid forward it has appointed an internal project team and a panel of leading external advisers to work on this acquisition, dubbed “Project Greensteel Pluto”.
The 12-strong team will be led by Liberty executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta, who will be working closely with Jay Hambro, Group Chief Investment Officer of the GFG Alliance and Chief Executive of the SIMEC Group, and Jon Bolton, Chief Executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates and UK Steel Development.
Bolton, former Director of Tata Steel, is also Chair of the trade body, UK Steel and co-chair with UK Secretary of State Sajid Javid of the UK Steel Council.
The company said: “The internal team includes senior executives with extensive experience in the global and UK steel industry, as well as specialists in the legal, environmental, finance and human resource fields. Five of the team have previously worked at senior level within Tata.”