Tata Steel UK to sell Hartlepool pipe mills to Liberty House

Cyclists ride past the Tata steelworks in the town of Port Talbot, Wales, Britain. (Photo: Reuters)
Tata Steel UK on Tuesday announced the sale of a part of its pipe mills in Hartlepool to Liberty House Group. The transaction is expected to be completed within the next few months.

The sale agreement covers the sale of 42-inch and 84-inch pipe mills, where about 140 employees manufacture pipes for gas and oil projects around the world, the company said.

Tata Steel said it would retain its 20-inch tube mill at the same Hartlepool site, where 270 people manufacture tubes for a range of markets, including construction, infrastructure and machinery. Tata Steel would be making a £1-million investment in the 20-inch mill to increase its capability to make high-strength steel tubes, the statement said. 

“With this sale, Tata Steel UK will complete its portfolio restructuring to focus on the strip products supply chain linked to Port Talbot. The sale is also an important step towards developing a more sustainable future for the rest of our UK business,” Bimlendra Jha, chief executive officer of Tata Steel UK, said.

Both parties would be working to complete consultations with employees and trade unions, as well as the transfer of supplier and customer contracts. 

Tata Steel has invested more than £1.6 billion in its UK business since acquiring Corus in 2007, including £100 million over the last year to enable advanced steel manufacturing in a number of UK sites. In March, it announced restructuring of its European portfolio, including divestment of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts. It has suffered asset impairment of £2 billion in the past five years. In April, it agreed to sell the Scunthorpe site to Greybull Capital. Its key UK operations centre around Port Talbot in Wales and around seven bidders are in the fray.

The British government has offered financial support to help find a new buyer for Tata Steel UK plants as it is keen on avoiding job losses to the tune of 11,000.

In May, Tata Steel scrapped plans to merge group firms Tata Metaliks and Tata Metaliks DI Pipes with it due to delay in regulatory and statutory approvals. 

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