Indian steel giant Tata Steel is getting set to make some “major announcements” on its growth plans for the UK, according to a UK-based academic close to Tata Group interim chairman Ratan Tata. Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, founder-chairman of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and one of the Tata Group’s advisers, said the group is “resolving” the problems facing the business.
“Of course we went through some problems as you have read in the press in the last few months but we are now resolving it and we are working with everybody, with the workers, local authorities and government, in order to make sure that Tata produces steel here for the next 10 years at least. We will do that,” Lord Bhattacharyya told a meeting of political and automotive leaders from the West Midlands on Thursday evening.
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He stressed Britain “has got a lot of skill in steel”, adding: “We have been going through some problems of course, temporary problems, but nevertheless I think we are on the verge of solving it. We will work with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to introduce thin steels for the new generation of cars.” The Labour party peer is also a member of the panel that will choose Tata’s successor as group chairman, the ‘Guardian’ reports.
The future of Tata Steel’s UK operations and its 11,000 workers has been in doubt since the firm announced a review in March and the entire UK business was put up for sale. However, Tata Steel then announced a potential merger of its European operations, including the UK business, with the German group ThyssenKrupp. Talks with ThyssenKrupp have been continuing, but Tata sources told the newspaper the company is now willing to commit to its UK sites whether this deal goes ahead or not.
The future of Tata Steel UK’s pension scheme, the British Steel Pension Scheme, has been a major obstacle to the future of the business. It has liabilities of more than 15 billion pounds and 130,000 members, making it one of the biggest retirement schemes in the UK.