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British Business Secretary meets Tata Steel management 

Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) British Business Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday met Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry along with Tata Steel top brass on the issue of the company’s proposed sale of its steel assets in Britain.

“Just finished meeting with Tata Steel in Mumbai. Now off to Delhi for talks on UK/India trade,” Javid said in a tweet.

The board of Tata Steel is also meeting on Friday to discuss the future of its British steel operations.

There are reports that the company is likely to put the sale on hold following the British referendum verdict to exit the European Union, which has raised concerns about the viability of the British steel industry that has already been under prolonged and serious pressure.

The BBC reported on Thursday that Tata Steel likely “will pause” the sale of most of its British business, including that at Port Talbot in Wales.

Earlier Tata Steel had announced that it has started sale process of its British business employing around 11,000 people in steel making plants in Port Talbot and Rotherham with a total capacity of 5.7 million tons.

The company said it had contacted 190 potential investors around the world and seven potential investors were short-listed and invited to submit binding bids.

The British government has been trying to help Tata Steel by consulting on drawing up special legislation to lower pension benefits for many of the 130,000 members of the old British Steel pension fund. It has also offered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of loans and the taking of a potential 25 per cent stake in the business.

Tata acquired the British Steel Pension fund in 2007. It has 130,000 members and a deficit of 700 million pounds (about $900 million).

One potential bidder fears that a delay now will see the British business “wither on the vine” while Tata refocuses its investment on its plants within the European Union.

The British minister is due to meet Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi later on Friday.

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