British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said there have been an “encouraging number of serious bids” for Indian steel giant Tata Steel’s loss-making UK assets but warned there were “no guarantees” for a successful conclusion to save thousands of jobs.
“As I’ve always said there are no guarantees. We can’t guarantee this is going to work,” Cameron told reporters while travelling to a G7 summit in Japan.
“We continue to work towards trying to get a good outcome for Tata in south Wales (Port Talbot plant). The sales process is underway, there have been an encouraging number of serious bids from companies coming through.
“We’ve got to stick at it to try to bring this to successful conclusion,” he said, as his business secretary Sajid Javid arrived in Mumbai for talks with the Tata Group over the potential bids for its UK steelworks.
Cameron said he will use the G7 meeting to discuss the issue with the presidents of the European Commission and Council.
The Tata board is expected to draw up a shortlist from the bids received.
Two of the frontrunners to acquire the UK steelworks – Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta-owned Liberty House and management buyout group Excalibur Steel – are willing to work together.
While Tata has refused to comment on the final bids that had come in before the Monday deadline, it is believed Liberty and Excalibur have submitted separate bids but state in documents that they are willing to work in partnership on a takeover.
Meanwhile, workers from Tata Steel and other British steel producers are staging a march in central London on Wednesday to call for a stronger government strategy to support the steel industry.
Thousands of jobs have already been lost in a series of plant closures by Britain’s biggest steel employer as the sector buckles under pressure from cheap Chinese imports and unions want ministers to do more to fight off the threat.
“Market economy access for China is the last thing British steelworkers need. The government must reverse course,” Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
Nearly 11,000 Tata jobs in the UK are on the line with the current sale process, including 4,000 at the Port Talbot works in south Wales, the UK’s largest.