British prime minister Gordon Brown on Thursday said a number of buyers are interested in saving Tata-owned Corus TCP mills,which the company is partially shutting from tomorrow rendering 1,600 workers jobless. Browns remark came hours after the company said in an e-mail statement that there has been speculation about potential last minute bidders for the plant. Corus position remains unchanged. This is a mothballing,not a permanent closure. TCP will be kept ready for a restart. Corus remains open to credible offers for TCP, it added.
During a phone-in on Real Radio ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Durham,Brown said he had spoken to the owners of the Indian parent company Tata and Corus chief Kirby Adams. We are still trying to find new owners for the site, the prime minister said. Asked whether he had heard venture capitalist Jon Moulton was interested,Brown replied: I am aware that there are a number of companies talking to us and Corus,not just Moulton,of whose bid I am not aware. A lot of work is being done behind the scenes. Mothballing will unfortunately have to go ahead.
Meanwhile,UK business secretary Peter Mandelson visited the plant hoping to encourage the management to consider tentative offers,while his deputy Pat McFadden will have talks with the Tatas in Mumbai. Earlier,the mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon and football club chairman Steve Gibson issued a joint statement calling for a credible consortium to be given more assistance in putting a bid together.