The Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot: AFP

After failing to merge its loss-making European unit with German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel has ruled out any more merger attempts for now, and is now looking to make its European operations turn a corner and become sustainable.

Tata Steel Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director T.V. Narendran has reportedly told his European team to become “cash positive”, Business Standard reports.

Ever since Tata Steel acquired Corus Group Plc in 2007, which was later renamed Tata Steel Europe, its European operations have mostly been funded by the Indian units. Over the years, Tata Steel has taken a US$ 3 billion impairment on its European steel operations. It has plants in Port Talbot, Scunthorpe and Teesside in the United Kingdom and Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.

The Indian steelmaker is now looking to lower the cost of its European operations. “Cost across the board, working capital requirements of 2 billion euros per annum and annual capex cost of 300-400 million euros are the areas where the team is looking to curtail spending,” Narendran told Business Standard.

Apart from the failure of the Thyssenkrupp deal, the rising raw material cost and the Sino-US trade war is expected to adversely affect Tata Steel’s Europe operations.

A major chunk of the company’s debt burden has been caused by its European operations, which stood at 1008.16 billion rupees (US$ 14.70 billion) in March this year.

The European Commission blocked the proposed joint venture as it feared it would reduce competition and increase steel prices. Both Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp refused to offer more concessions to the Commission and decided to call off the deal.

The proposed deal would have created Europe’s second-largest steelmaker after ArcelorMittal, by merging the two companies’ operations in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.

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