Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant would be one of the major casualties if a buyer cannot be found

Tata Steel and Business Secretary in talks over potential buyer

Tata and the UK Government are meeting in Mumbai in an effort to find a buyer for the company’s steelworks in order to save thousands of jobs and ensure the longevity of the UK’s domestic steel production.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid will meet Cyrus Mistry, chairman of the Indian conglomerate which is selling its UK business because it is losing £1m a day.

Sanjeev Gupta, who owns commodities company Liberty Group, has expressed an interest in acquiring the business from Tata and has already met with Javid in London.

Gupta, who has bought other distressed steel assets in Britain, said the meeting was positive and the government was "highly supportive" and "actively engaged" in finding a long-term solution.

"The next step is for Tata to define the formal sales process and request indications of interest from potential buyers," he said in a statement after the meeting.

Opposition lawmakers have accused David Cameron and his government of being "asleep at the wheel" by letting Tata’s UK steel business decline to such an extent.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for the industry to be nationalised if a buyer can’t be found.

Corbyn said the Government had an "ideological allergy" to nationalisation and warned that cheap Chinese steel dumped on European markets would not last forever and the UK must take action to preserve its own manufacturing base.

"They seem to be unclear about the role the Government could take in this. We have to guarantee the industry, we have to guarantee the jobs and the pensions, we have to be prepared to take a public stake in it to guarantee that," he said. "Because we all need the steel industry in Britain."

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has signalled ministers are working on plans to reduce energy costs and take on some of the pension liabilities in an effort to attract a buyer for Tata's business.

Although he said he was not in favour of nationalising the industry, he acknowledged that the government would have to come forward with some financial assistance if there was to be a deal.

15,000 jobs are currently on the line, but the government hopes that any deal made will avoid the possibility of redundancies.

Workers in the car-making arm of Tata have also urged the company to allow enough time to sell its UK business. Members of the Unite union at Jaguar Land Rover wrote to Mistry warning against a "fire sale" of the loss-making assets.

Carwyn Jones, the first minister of Wales, has said that if a buyer comes forward, the timescale of negotiations will be extended.

"Tata have a good reputation worldwide, they will not want to lose that, and they will ensure that as a responsible seller,” he said.

"We don't have all the time in the world, that's true, but we will now work quickly to ensure that any potential deal is done.”

It is thought that if the steel operations close for good, it would have a detrimental effect on thousands of small businesses in the UK who rely on the company for their supply.

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