Tata Steel talking to more firms to revive European ops


Tata Steel today reiterated it has “widened its conversation” to a more strategic play in the European market and is talking to several players, including the German giant Thyssenkrup, but refused to share more details on future plans.
“As far as our European operations are concerned, we are in talks with several players. Thyssenkrup is one of them. When we come to a finality in this subject we will disclose,” Tata Steels group chief financial officer Koushik Chatterjee told reporters on the sidelines of the 109th annual general meeting here this evening.
It can be noted that the company, reporting heavy losses in its British operations, have put the assets on the block on March 29, but has so far been unable to get a buyer.
“We are looking at a more strategic play, which involves talking to premium steel companies. The idea is to make the business more sustainable in the future,” he added.
He indicated that the conversations are more about strategic consolidation in the European steel industry. “As part of the conversation, we look at assets and businesses on both sides.”
Tata Steel and German conglomerate Thyssenkrup have been in talks for several months about a joint venture, among other things, for their European operations.
In terms of the sale process of its speciality business in England, Chatterjee said it is progressing well.
“We have received initial interest from several bidders and we are moving to the next stage,” he said.
He added that the processes are not easy, as it is part of Tata Steel British business, which are on the block since late March and the business has to be separated first, then sold and concluded.
“So long as we are on the process and we have interest on the other side, its a good sign,” he said.
On restructuring the pension scheme for its heavily loss-making British operations, Chatterjee said it is a well funded scheme paying the pensioners at this point of time.
“If there are any structural changes will take its own course. We are discussing with various stake holders, including the British government and other stakeholders like the government of Wales and so on,” he said.
“There is a recognition that pension has a certain impact in a commodity business like steel, so we have to find a structural solution, which does not impact the business going forward,” he added.

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