LONDON: Tata Steel has signed an agreement to sell its speciality steel business employing 1,700 people for £100m in the north of England.
It comes after Tata signed a “letter of intent” on the sale of the business in November.
“We will be handing over a business which has been transformed following difficult decisions to restructure and re-focus on higher-value markets.
“I’m delighted to say that the business is now on an improvement track which will enable it to thrive in the future.”
Liberty House executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “I am proud that we are acquiring a world-class business with a very skilled workforce and broad range of high-value products.
“It is one of only a handful of such operations in the world and I am confident it will flourish within our group.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark said the deal was “a great opportunity for Liberty House” and added: “I look forward to hearing more about their expansion plans which secures skilled jobs at the business into the future.”
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, the steelworkers’ union, welcomed the announcement but said more work needed to be done before the sale is completed.
He said: “The steelworkers concerned produce some of the world’s most advanced steel products and we will need to be convinced this sale is in their best interests.”
The agreement follows months of uncertainty after the Indian-owned giant put up its UK business for sale earlier this year.
The speciality steels business includes units at Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brimsworth in South Yorkshire, plus service centres in Bolton and Wednesbury in the West Midlands, as well as China.
Liberty House has made a series of acquisitions over the past year, including steelworks formerly owned by Tata in Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland.
It said the latest deal would make it one of the largest steel and engineering employers in the UK, with more than 4,000 workers.
In June, Tata sold a Scunthorpe site employing more than 4,000 people to investment group Greybull Capital, which is now operating under the revived British Steel brand.
Tata’s strip products business still employs nearly 8,500 people in the UK, with a main blast furnace site at Port Talbot in South Wales.
The company put its UK business up for sale earlier this year as the steel sector buckled under pressure, with thousands of job losses across the wider industry blamed on high energy costs and cheap Chinese steel.
But it has revisited its sale plans after pledges of Government support and an agreement to restructure its pension scheme.