‘Talks ongoing’ with potential buyer of Tata Steel’s Scottish plants

Tata SteelA potential buyer has emerged for the two Scottish plants of beleaguered metal company Tata Steel.

According to reports, international firm Liberty House has declared an interest in buying the sites in Dalzell and Clydebridge after Tata announced its decision to shed 270 jobs the factories last year.

The closures were part of nationwide cuts to the business with a further 900 jobs being lost in Scunthorpe.

It was reported late last year that investment firm Greybull Capital is also in talks with Tata Steel for the potential sale of its long products business but it is has not been confirmed if the Scottish plants will be part of this.

It is now understood that talks between Liberty Steel, Tata Steel, Greybull Capital and the Scottish Government are ongoing but nothing has yet been finalised. The international metals business confirmed its interest to BBC Scotland this morning and said talks were at an early stage.

The Scottish Steel Taskforce, set up in the wake of the Tata Steel closures, is set to meet for the fifth time today.

Business minister Fergus Ewing said: “Liberty House has a proven track record in the UK steel industry and this is a welcome development in the quest to secure a sustainable future for Scottish steel.

“I met Liberty management last week to outline the full range of potential support that would be available from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise should it succeed in a buyout.

“I also emphasised that the Scottish Steel Task Force continues to work constructively to ensure a viable future for the plants, with action being taken forward on energy costs, business rates, procurement and on environmental issues.”

He added: “To help a new operator restart operations, the Scottish government has also invested £195,000 in a plan to keep key workers on standby to minimise the time the plants are mothballed and to safeguard full manufacturing capability.

“The Steel Task Force will meet this morning and reflect on this positive development.”

Liberty House reopened a steelworks in Newport, Wales, after a two-and-a-half-year closure in October.

It restarted the former Alphasteel plant to convert roll steel into coils that will be used in roads, bridges and other construction projects.

Responding to reports that Liberty House is interested in the Scottish mills, a spokesman for the steelworkers’ union, Community said: “As we have said all along, we welcome any interest from credible investors who want to create a sustainable future for the Dalzell and Clydebridge mills.

“This reinforces our strongly held view that the skills of the workforce and the assets at the plants can be competitive and these businesses can have a successful future with the right long-term investment.

“Clearly, there is a long way to go from an expression of interest to rebuilding the workforce and restarting production.

“This is why all stakeholders, particularly Tata Steel and the Scottish Government, need to work together and remain focused on doing all they can to preserve the assets and retain skills, so that another investor can secure jobs and bring back production as soon as practically possible.

“To achieve this there needs to be open dialogue and full consultation with Community as the representative of Scottish steelworkers.”

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