The sale of a huge Tata steelworks has been completed today as efforts continue to find a buyer for the firm's other UK plants.
Negotiations between the Indian conglomerate and investment firm Greybull Capital over the Scunthorpe plant started nine months ago.
Tata Steel UK Limited today announced the signing of an agreement to sell its Long Products Europe business to the family investment office, Greybull Capital.
The sale for a nominal consideration, would be in exchange for Greybull Capital taking on the whole of the business, including assets and relevant liabilities, and securing an appropriate funding package.
The deal would be completed once a number of outstanding conditions have been resolved, including transfer of contracts, certain Government approvals and the satisfactory completion of financing arrangements.
The Long Products Europe business employs 4,800 people – 4,400 in the UK and 400 in France.
Thousands of jobs will be saved at the plant and at supplier firms
The Long Products Europe business is made up of the following facilities:
:: Teesside Beam Mill, Lackenby
:: Special Profiles, Skinningrove
:: Hayange Rail Mill, north east France
:: Immingham Bulk Terminal (port terminal)
:: Engineering workshop, Workington
:: Design consultancy, York
:: Associated distribution facilities in the UK and Ireland
The future of the company's Hartlepool site, in Brenda Road, was thrown into doubt last month when the firm announced its intention to sell all UK assets.
About 500 people work at the Hartlepool factory.
Bimlendra Jha, executive chairman of the stand-alone Long Products Europe business, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the sale of the Long Products Europe business.
"This sale is the best possible outcome for employees who have worked relentlessly to ensure the business’s survival, and helped to make it attractive to a potential buyer.”
The agreement follows an accelerated process of negotiations between Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital.
The agreement is an important milestone on the road towards continuing steelmaking in Scunthorpe and steel processing in other locations in the UK and France.
The sale covers several UK-based assets including the Scunthorpe steelworks, two mills in Teesside, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York, and associated distribution facilities, as well as a mill in northern France.
Hans Fischer, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, also welcomed the news. He said: “Under these current challenging market conditions in Europe with the soaring levels of imports from China, we are happy that Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital have entered the final stage of completion of the sale of shareholding in Longs Steel UK.
"This transaction will offer a future for the Long Products Europe business and its 4,400 employees in the UK.”
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today's announcement is a step in the right direction for the long-term future of British steel manufacturing in Scunthorpe.
"This agreement wouldn't have been reached without the efforts of all those involved especially the high-skilled workforce and local management.
"We will continue to work with Tata and Greybull and, as we have said, stand ready to provide funding on a commercial basis if required.
"The UK and Welsh Governments are working tirelessly to support Tata Steel to reach a deal for Port Talbot and their other sites across the UK. This agreement sends positive signals to any potential investor for the rest of Tata's UK business."
Liberty is the only company expressing a public interest in buying the assets, including the country's biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in south Wales.