Group set to buy Tata steel plants could still walk away

Sanjeev Gupta of Liberty House has said it will not take on any loss-making parts of the Tata steel operation.

Sanjeev Gupta of Liberty House has said it will not take on any loss-making parts of the Tata steel operation.

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The executive chairman of the commodity group which has expressed interest in buying Tata's UK steel operations has said he is not "married" to the plan and could still walk away.

Sanjeev Gupta is the founder of Liberty House - the only company to publicly express an interest in Tata's plants, which include a rolling steel mill in Hartlepool which employs 500 people.

But in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph the steel magnate said that the company would not take on any plants that meant it would sustain losses as it was "not our business model".

Indian conglomerate the Tata Group announced it planned to sell off its loss-making UK steel empire on launching crisis talks with Business Secretary Sajid Javid in a bid to ensure it was a "responsible seller".

Mr Gupta said that changes, including switching from blast furnaces to electrically powered furnaces that melt scrap steel in Port Talbot, could produce "a very clear opportunity to turn things around, make money and create a sustainable business".

But he said: "I feel passionately about this and would like to do it, but I am not married to it.

"It is too big a deal for us to get wrong. It could put the whole company at risk ."

He added that he had not yet engaged with Tata and while he did not anticipate job losses, he knew taking on the plants would not be easy and was "not expecting it to cost a lot".

Liberty House took over two Scottish steel mills, Dalzell and Clydebridge, six months after Tata announced it was mothballing them with the loss of 270 jobs.