Two bidders looking to buy Corus’ mothballed Teesside Cast Products plant could submit a joint bid for the facility.
Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon met with Tata’s vice chairman Balasubramanian Muthuraman, and TCP plant managing director Jon Bolton in a “constructive and worthwhile meeting” to discuss the future of the steel plant.
Mallon has been working with the consortium of local entrepreneurs Chris Musgrave and Paul Weavers and a syndicate of investors led by metallurgy experts Hatch Corporate Finance, which have so far been the only confirmed bidders.
Before the meeting Mallon had said: “I believe the best solution for the future of Corus would be if these two groups came together to form a single bid.”
After meeting with Muthuraman he continued: “I am aware of at least two bidders and hopefully over the coming weeks any obstacles can be overcome and a deal can be done. I understand that one bidder has signed a confidentiality agreement but Rutland Partners, who are part of the consortium I have been dealing with for some months, have yet to do so.”
Bidders must sign a confidentiality agreement with Corus before talks can commence.
The Mayor seems to again allude to a possible joint arrangement as he added: “It is clear that all parties at this stage have the will but the question is, can we find a way to successfully conclude a deal?”
At the beginning of May, Thai steelmaker SSI was named as a possible bidder for the TCP plant after visiting the site around the same time. MRW understands the party that has signed the confidentiality agreement referred to by Mallon is SSI.
According to the Mayor, a conclusion to the bidding process could be reached in a matter of weeks. He said: “On leaving the meeting with Mr Muthuraman I immediately spoke to Hatch Corporate Finance and Rutland Parteers with regard to this aspect of the bidding process and they have assured me things are progressing with some urgency with regard to this matter… I am more convinced than ever that there is a real chance of saving the steel plant and a significant number of jobs. I do believe we are at a critical phase and the next few weeks will be crucial.”
Muthuraman apparently stated that Tata is prepared to sell excess land for future development for the good of the area, but the steel plant remains the priority. Additionally, Mallon called on the Government to focus on protecting the UK manufacturing industry, as its decline has been a factor in the deterioration of the steel industry.