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Port Talbot Chief to launch Tata UK management buyout

Tata Steel’s Port Talbot Chief is to launch a management buyout of the company’s operations in the UK.

Unions in the steel industry have welcomed reports that Stuart Wilkie, Chief of the Port Talbot Steel plant, may lead a rescue package to buy out the Port Talbot steelworks. The management buyout looks at managers of the company buying some or all of the company from its owners.

Tata is selling its entire UK business, which directly employs 15,000 workers in the UK, and supports thousands of others across plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.

The Port Talbot plant was said to be losing £1M a day, facing the worst economic period in its history, driven by falling prices and global oversupply. Cheaper Chinese imports have accelerated the fall of the industry, along with high energy costs.

Stuart Wilkie, Tata’s Executive responsible for Port Talbot, is said to be behind the bid and an announcement is expected on 20 April. He led the previous “turnaround plan” presented to Tata bosses in India, which was rejected by the board, leading to a crisis where the company was put up for sale.

Mark Turner, from Unite, who works at Port Talbot, said: “At this moment in time, we know as much as anybody else. We will be going to work tomorrow to find out what this means for everybody. Anything is a lifeline at this stage. We will continue to explore any offers that are put in front of us. We want the business to remain as a complete unit and not to be split up.”

The government have been criticised over their lack of assistance in the crisis, resisting calls to nationalise the plant. However, last week, Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary suggested that the government would look at “co-investing with a buyer on commercial terms”.

A management buyout at Port Talbot would require significant government assistance of up to £100M.