Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tata chief non-commital over steel jobs

THE head of India's Tata Steel took a philosophical approach yesterday when asked about the future of Wales' 7,900 steelworkers.

Mr B Muthuraman, managing director of Tata Steel, which has just paid £6.2bn for Anglo-Dutch steelmakers Corus, answered, "I am not a soothsayer... neither am I a futurist."

The "reverse colonialism" acquisition by centenary-celebrating Tata Steel of European giant Corus makes the Mumbai-based company the world's fifth biggest steelmaker.

Corus employs 7,900 in Wales including more than 3,000 at its flagship Port Talbot plant.

But steel, especially basic "slab steel" is made at a fraction of the European price in South-East Asia.

So when Mr Muthuraman paid his first visit to a sun-washed Port Talbot steelworks yesterday in his new role as head of the global steel firm the question on everyone's lips was "What is the future of Port Talbot?"

Mr Muthuraman, accompanied by Philippe Varin, chief executive of Corus, was pressed hard on the future of Welsh steel jobs.

But he said, "Just like a man needs to be healthy to live long, a business needs to be healthy to have a long life."

And he was adamant he had no crystal ball to tell the future of highly productive but relatively expensive plants like Scunthorpe and Port Talbot.

Link to full article at  icWales


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