Tata Steel UK boss takes leave to work on Excalibur Steel buy-out

Stuart Wilkie
Image caption Stuart Wilkie has had senior roles including with Corus before Tata

Tata Steel UK's director at Port Talbot and Llanwern is taking a paid leave of absence from the company to develop plans for a management buyout.

Stuart Wilkie has also been named as chief executive of the bid vehicle, which is now called Excalibur Steel UK.

He played a leading role in drawing up a survival plan for the loss-making UK operations.

This plan was rejected as "too risky" by Tata's board, who have put the steel plants up for sale.

BBC Wales reported last week that Mr Wilkie would be the leading figure in the management buyout.

He has years of experience in the industry, including with Corus before Tata at Ebbw Vale and at Trostre.

The survival plan included more than 1,000 redundancies, most of them at Port Talbot.

Last week, the chair of the Excalibur Steel consortium Roger Maggs said that rescue plan was still viable.

Named as a director of Excalibur is Simon Gibson, a business associate of tycoon Sir Terry Matthews, who hosted a consortium meeting at the Celtic Manor in Newport last week.

A spokesman said: "We are in the process of establishing a full team plus advisors to progress the bid and engage with interested parties.

"Further statements will be made in due course".

The UK government is willing to take a stake of up to 25% as a co-investor.

The Welsh government is also committed to over £60 million in funding.

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The management buyout option would include investment from managers, workers and the local community.

A group of business figures, led by the billionaire entrepreneur, Sir Terry Matthews, is also supporting the management buyout though it is not clear whether that includes financial backing.

The executive chairman of Liberty Steel in Newport, Sanjeev Gupta, is also investigating a potential takeover of Tata's UK sites.

A Tata spokesperson said: "Tata Steel Europe welcomes credible expressions of interest for Tata Steel's UK operations.

"All expressions of interest, including any management buy-out proposals, will be considered when received.

"In the interests of all stakeholders every credible expression of interest will enter the same rigorous assessment process to ensure the best value and prospects of sustainability for Tata Steel UK."

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