Hopes that the jobs could be saved in the UK steel industry have taken an upturn following the announcement that Tata Steel has signed a Letter of Intent with Greybull Capital for the potential sale of its Long Products business.
Tata say that the move would lead to exclusive negotiations with the investment firm that would cover the company's UK-based assets including the Scunthorpe steelworks, mills in Teesside, an engineering workshop in Workington, and a design consultancy in York.
Any potential deal could also include Tata Steel's mothballed Scottish mills in Dalzell and Clydebridge.
Unions welcomed the announcement, the Press Association said, following a spate of job losses in the steel industry and fears for the future of Tata's Long Products business.
Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations, said:
Greybull said in a brief statement: "Greybull Capital LLP confirms that it has signed a Letter of Intent with Tata Steel to enter exclusive discussions on the possible acquisition of the Long Products Europe business based in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.
"Whilst this is an important milestone, much work remains to be done to reach a successful outcome."
About 4,700 people are employed at Long Products Europe and its distribution facilities.
Tata Steel Europe employs around 30,000 people across Europe, including about 17,000 in the UK.