Tata Steel manager 'expresses interest in Port Talbot buyout'


A senior manager at Tata Steel is believed to have expressed an interest in a potential buyout of the Port Talbot steelworks.

Stuart Wilkie, managing director of Tata's Strip Products is understood to be canvassing workers about joining a bid.

The investment he is seeking from employees could be as much as £10,000 each, according to sources. Private investors and government support would also be needed.

Tata would not confirm the names of anyone who has expressed an interest in buying its loss making UK business.

The Indian conglomerate announced three weeks ago that it was selling its UK assets.

Thousands of jobs are in the balance at Tata plants across the country as well as in firms supplying the business.

Mr Wilkie was one of those behind a survival plan for Tata's UK steel business which was rejected by the board in India.

The business is losing £1 million a day and although Tata has not set a deadline for the sale, time is tight for a buyer to agree a deal.

Up to now, Liberty has been the only firm to express a public interest in buying the business.

However, Liberty's executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said he would consider taking it on only if the price was low and insisted he was not so attached to the idea that he could not walk away.

The steel magnate said that the company would not take on any plants that meant it would sustain losses as it was "not our business model".

Tata's UK steel operations are not making a profit - the company is losing £1 million a day across all its sites.

They include their biggest steel plant in Port Talbot, south Wales, where more than 4,000 people are employed. 

Tens of thousands of others rely on the industry, either through direct employment or in firms which supply or service the sector.

Last week the Business Secretary raised the prospect of government involvement in the sale which surprised many in the industry.

Sajid Javid told the Commons he had been in contact with potential buyers, making clear that the Government stands ready to help and had not ruled anything out.

"This includes looking at the possibility of co-investing with a buyer on commercial terms," he said.

On Monday he joined ministers from other countries at a meeting in Brussels to discuss the global glut of steel that has pushed British production to the brink of collapse.