Tata steel bidders willing to work together

Tata steelworks Port Talbot Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Port Talbot is Tata Steel's biggest UK plant with about 4,000 workers

Two of the bidders for Tata's Port Talbot and other UK steel plants are willing to work together, the BBC understands.

Liberty House and a management buyout team will submit separate bids for Tata UK when the deadline closes on Monday.

However, they plan to state in the bid documents that they are willing to work in partnership on a takeover.

It comes after reports the management buyout group, Excalibur Steel, met for talks last week with Liberty.

Excalibur, which is led by a Tata UK executive, plans to offer support for Liberty's bid, while Liberty is set to outline its desire to work with the group, the BBC understands.

Tata put its UK steel assets up for sale earlier this year. In addition to the Port Talbot factory - the UK's largest steelworks - Tata also has sites at Newport and Rotherham.

Stuart Wilkie, who headed up Tata's UK strip steel division and is chief executive of Excalibur, said he could not comment on the proposed tie-up.

"All I know is that we are finalising our own individual bid with our lawyers today, ahead of tomorrow's deadline," he said.

Liberty has a different vision for Port Talbot to Excalibur, which involves replacing its blast furnaces with electric-powered arc furnaces. Liberty declined to comment.

It has been widely reported that after Monday's deadline for bindings bids, the Tata Group will then discuss the offers at a board meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid is set to fly to Mumbai ahead of the sale and has offered to co-invest with a private sector partner to save the Port Talbot steel works.


Liberty, run by steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta, and Excalibur are the only two bidders from the UK steel industry.

Others in the running are: investment firm Greybull, which recently bought Tata's Scunthorpe plant; India's JSW Steel; China's Hebei Iron and Steel Group; and UK turnaround fund Endless.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that US billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has also made it onto the shortlist after submitting a late offer.

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