Tata Steel says it is keeping its options open over Brexit.
CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran was speaking at a press conference as the company revealed more details on the planned merger of its European operation with Thyssenkrupp.
What kind of form and shape it takes, is something we will carefully watch. It is a very important factor.Natarajan Chandrasekaran
Tata employs about 270 people at its mill in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, and the new joint venture has said it is committed to avoiding any compulsory redundancies until 2026 - though it is looking for around 4,000 voluntary cuts across Europe.
Tata and the German firm held a joint press conference in Brussels, at which they reaffirmed their commitment to the European Union.
“Our two companies emanate from the heartlands of European steel production, with significant operations in three European countries, and we are very glad to assemble here in Brussels today because Brussels is the capital of the European Union and we wanted to express our strong commitment to the idea of the European Union,” said Mr Chandrasekaran.
It was difficult to know how Brexit would affect the business until more details emerged of any deal with the EU, he added: “It is too early to comment.
“Obviously, there is a factor. What kind of form and shape it takes, is something we will carefully watch. It is a very important factor.”
The new company was ‘beautifully placed,’ with operations in three countries - The Netherlands and Germany, as well as the UK: “It gives us options depending on what the outcome of Brexit is and how we organise ourselves to be able to service the market.”
Dr Heinrich Hiesinger, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp, added: “It is important to acknowledge that the steel industry was an important contributor to the foundation of the European Union and that the steel industry was really promoting common welfare.
“The joint venture want to continue this tradition.
“We clearly hope that whatever the outcome will be, that there will be a free market for us.
“But even if there are other circumstances that we do not wish at all, I think the fact that we have integrated plant in the UK, Netherlands and Germany makes us very flexible.
“Let’s say we will find an appropriate solution but we do hope there will be a free flow of material.”
It was too early to say where the new firm would look for redundancies.
“For the majority of our employees, more than 40,000 we believe the future is more secure,” said Dr Hiesinger.
“But we cannot avoid that in certain locations, adjustments will be necessary.”