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Tata Steel sells UK pipe mills to Liberty House


By Maytaal Angel and Arnab Paul

LONDON/(Reuters) - said on Tuesday it had agreed to sell its pipe mills in the north of to UK-based metals and industrial group Liberty House for an undisclosed sum.

The mills in Hartlepool employ 140 people and have a production capacity of over 250,000 tonnes a year.

Steel, Britain's largest steelmaker, has been selling off parts of its business since last year, when it announced talks to merge its British and European assets with those of Germany's Thyssenkrupp.

"With this sale, will complete its portfolio restructuring to focus on the strip products supply chain linked to Port Talbot," said Bimlendra Jha, CEO of

"The sale is also an important step towards developing a more sustainable future for the rest of our business."

In February, signed a 100 million pound deal to sell its speciality business to Liberty House, saving 1,700 jobs, mostly in South Yorkshire, northern

Under Tuesday's deal, retained ownership of a tube mill in Hartlepool that is supplied with coils from the European assets that it wants to retain and merge with Thyssenkrupp.

Tata, whose business is centred on the steelworks in Port Talbot, Wales, said it will invest 1 million pounds ($1.29 million) in the Hartlepool tube mill, which employs 270 people.

Privately-owned Liberty, which plans to list some of its businesses in 2018, has been snapping up distressed assets in Britain and around the world, including in the United States and Australia.

"This step will inspire investments not only in Hartlepool but also in our upstream plate mill at Dalzell (Scotland), and potentially ... at Whyalla in Australia in due course, to give us a fully-integrated world class capability to supply pipeline projects," Liberty's Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta.

The Hartlepool pipe mills make heavy-duty pipe for the oil and gas sector.

Liberty, which operates together with energy and commodities business SIMEC under the $9.4 billion Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance, said it is in talks to secure a support package to recruit more staff for the pipe mills business.

Gupta's Liberty House is one of the largest industrial employers in the with a workforce of nearly 5,000 people. Following Tuesday's deal, remains the largest steelmaker with a workforce of 8,500 people.

The sector is emerging from a crisis that saw some 5,000 jobs, a fifth of the workforce, axed in 2015/16. It is estimated that for every job saved, four jobs are retained in related industries.

Gupta first hit the headlines last year when he offered to rescue all the distressed plants owned by Tata, but the Indian group eventually decided against selling its entire business in favour of a tie-up with Thyssenkrupp.

($1 = 0.7749 pounds)

(Editing by David Evans)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 11 2017. 17:41 IST