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Home » Asian Life » Asian News

Tata Steel plunges into the red

India's Tata Steel has plunged into the red with losses of £840 million after wiping £1 billion off the value of its European arm, which employs 18,500 people in the UK.

The overall post-tax figure for the group represents a sharp fall from the previous year's £642 million profit, and is largely accounted for by the write-down.

Tata said "severely depressed conditions" in Europe and the UK had left steel demand almost 30% lower than 2008 pre-recession levels - leading to last week's move - though underlying performance in the region had improved with increased volumes in the last quarter.

The company did not give a pre-tax profit figure for its European arm. The overall group figure, excluding the impairment, was £387.7 million in the black, down from £621.6 million.

Unions have said the company's woes will concern staff in the UK at sites including Port Talbot, Rotherham and Scunthorpe, which are still reeling from 900 job cuts last year.

Tata, which bought Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus in 2007 for £6.2 billion, has endured a tough time during the downturn as demand from construction and car-making dived, forcing thousands of lay-offs and plant closures.

Its UK employees represent more than half of the company's European workforce. The firm announced its latest wave of redundancies in November, including 600 in South Wales, as part of a drive to cut costs.

Announcing the results, Tata said deliveries were down in its European operations over the year, largely due to repairs and outages, but that the re-lighting of a blast furnace at Port Talbot after a £220 million rebuild has helped performance in the fourth quarter.

The company said that it was continuing a programme of restructuring, cost-cutting and efficiency while also taking on 500 apprentices in the UK over the past couple of years.

Roy Rickhuss, from the Community trade union which represents many UK steel workers, said: "Whilst the last quarter shows there are some indications of improvement and the company have again today repeated there are no plans to cut back on investment or dispose of assets in the UK, the situation overall remains of concern to employees and their families." He said Michael Leahy, the union's general secretary, had arranged to meet the Tata Steel CEO, Karl Kohler, in London next week.

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