Latest on the steel sell-off

Here's my latest take on what has been a fast-moving story during the course of the day.

The man in charge of Tata's European operations Koushik Chatterjee set the tone during an interview in Mumbai in which he spelled out in no uncertain terms that the company wanted to offload its UK plants as quickly as possible, after sinking £2bn into them over a five year period.

It's also been clear from interviews done by the UK and Welsh governments that one of the big fears is some kind of quick disposal.

After hearing Mr Chatterjee's interview, I can understand their concern.

The noises from the UK Government have been to highlight the strategic importance to Britain of having some steel-making capacity.

Port Talbot

So while the Port Talbot works has enormous social and economic value to south Wales, it's the strategic importance to the UK as a whole which might save it.

Timing here is everything. The First Minister Carwyn Jones says a few weeks is too short a time-scale to find a buyer and that a stop-gap in the form of a UK Government take-over would be required to provide enough time.

The business secretary Sajid Javid, speaking in Australia, says nationalisation is not the solution but he added that buyers were out there and money would be made available to help with a deal.

That doesn't sound to me like UK Government ministers would be prepared to take control of Tata's UK operations in the hope that someone will come along at some unspecified date in the future.

On the table

But it does sound like serious efforts would be made to help push through a successful deal if there's a credible offer on the table.

Liberty House, which owns a steelworks in Newport, and has bought two other Tata sites in Scotland, has expressed an interest.

In a statement it said: "The scale and timing of yesterday's decision was much more dramatic than anyone was expecting.

"While the downstream operations will be of interest, we're clear that taking on the iron and steel making facilities present a huge challenge.

"Our engagement will depend very much on what Tata and the Government are prepared to do to help save these businesses."

The downstream operations are the profitable parts of the business that treat steel in a particular way for it to be then sold at a premium for a particular industry.

There will be parts of Tata's UK steel-making business which will be of interest. In other words, are we going to see a carve up of the business or can plants like Port Talbot be sold lock stock and barrel?