Tata Steel calls off deal to sell southeast Asia steel biz to China's HBIS Group

Tata Steel has called off its plans to sell majority stake in its Southeast Asia steel business to China's state-owned HBIS Group. .

Mumbai, August 6, 2019 – "We have been informed by HBIS that they have not been able to procure the requisite approvals from the Hebei government, one of the key conditions precedent for the proposed transaction. Both parties have, therefore, decided not to extend the definitive agreements," Tata Steel said in a press release. "Following the above, Tata Steel will immediately begin engagement with other investors in continuation of its strategy to find a partner for the Southeast Asian business."

This is the second time that India's largest private steelmaker's plan to offload low-margin assets abroad and pare debt has failed this year.

Mumbai-based Tata Steel was to sell a 70% stake to HBIS for $327 million in cash. Under the deal, TS Global Holdings Pte Ltd (TSGH), an indirect wholly-owned unit of Tata Steel, had signed definitive agreements in January with an entity controlled by HBIS to sell its entire stake in NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd and Tata Steel (Thailand).

Tata Steel bought NatSteel Singapore in 2004 for ₹1,313 crore, the first of its investments in Southeast Asia, and bought into a Thai steel company, Millennium Steel, two years later. However, operations have proved lacklustre from the start.

Tata Steel had also forged partnerships with Thyssenkrupp AG in Europe to rescue what it could from the acquisition of Corus, which saw massive write-downs in value, while also looking to sell five non-core units in Europe. That deal fell through in May, again for lack of regulatory approvals from the European Commission. Tata Steel is also seeking a buyer for these plants.

Tata Steel's gross debt as of FY19 stood at over ₹1 trillion.