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Tata Steel confirm Thyssenkrupp merger plans

Credit: PA

Tata Steel have formally unveiled intentions for a merger of their European steel operations with German company Thyssenkrupp after a memorandum of understanding was signed.

The companies said the move will lead to the creation of a leading European steel enterprise.

Merger talks started around 18 months ago after Tata decided not to sell its UK steel business.

The flat steel businesses of the two companies in Europe and the steel mill services of the Thyssenkrupp group will merge in the proposed 50:50 joint venture.

The companies employ around 48,000 workers, with Tata owning UK plants including Port Talbot in South Wales, which employs 4,000.

Today’s announcement marks the latest step in building a future for Tata Steel’s activities in Europe which is sustainable in every sense. Both Tata Steel Europe and Thyssenkrupp share a vision of supplying the most advanced quality products and services to customers in the world’s most demanding markets. The combination of our two businesses would provide the strongest possible foundation for achieving this vision, creating a global leader for the long term.

– Andrew Robb, Chairman of Tata Steel Europe

This European joint venture offers the potential to create a premium, world-class flat steel business with the scale and scope of capabilities to compete successfully on the global stage. It would have an integrated steel production and distribution network in Europe, offering customers an expanded product range and an improved service. It would help to accelerate our European operations’ technological and cost leadership while also providing greater long-term sustainability to workers. We will continue to communicate with our employees and inform and consult with works councils and trade unions as these discussions develop.

– Dr. Hans Fischer, Chief Executive Officer of Tata Steel Europe

Steel trade union Community say they "cautiously welcome" the news.

As always, the devil will be in the detail and we are seeking further assurances on jobs, investment and future production across the UK operations. As a priority, we will be pressing Tata to demonstrate their long term commitment to steelmaking in the UK by confirming they will invest in the reline of Port Talbot’s Blast Furnace No.5.

We must also be assured that ThyssenKrupp’s pension liabilities will be ring-fenced with a cast-iron guarantee that UK steelworkers will never fund German pensions.

We are now seeking an urgent meeting with Tata to fully understand their intentions for the UK in the context of the joint venture. We are also making arrangements to bring together senior representatives from across the UK to determine our approach to this significant new development.

– Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community and Chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee